WattEV unveils nation’s largest electric truck charging depot in Bakersfield

May 6, 2024 /

A first-of-its-kind solar-powered electric truck stop is officially operational in Bakersfield thanks to WattEV, a Los Angeles-based, innovative transport technology company dedicated to electrifying the heavy-duty transport industry.

According to the WattEV website, the organization has the vision to harness the power of technology and data to make a positive shift in the health of “our air, our planet, and our people.” With this newly opened electric truck depot, WattEV can do just that.

“Bakersfield is the first site that WattEV took under development. It was the first site that put us on the map,” said WattEV CEO, Salim Youssefzadeh. “We started with a dream. We knew that eventually the transition to EV would come, and we wanted to make sure that we were at the forefront of making it a reality.”

Youssefzadeh explained that Bakersfield was chosen as a starting point due to the area’s need for clean air. Bakersfield has consistently been named one of the country’s most polluted cities, with many places throughout the city being affected by fossil fuels. 

Despite being the first choice for this kind of organization, Bakersfield was the third, but the largest, electric charging depot opened by WattEV. Locations in Port of Long Beach and San Bernardino were both opened before the Bakersfield depot could be made operational due to its need for an excess amount of power. 

“We know that it’s very unlikely for you to go to a utility company and ask for 20 plus megawatts on day one so new technologies have to be developed and have to be tested and Bakersfield is just that,” stated Youssefzadeh. 

The amount of power WattEv needed for the Bakersfield depot was unable to be fulfilled by just utility companies. Although PG&E was able to provide power for some of this location, more infrastructure needed to be built to power the rest. This led to the installation of 100 acres of solar panels and battery storage. 

This state-of-the-art station features 16 dual-cord 360kW chargers connected to the grid and 15 single-cord 240kW CCS chargers, plus three MCS rapid chargers, drawing power from the site’s solar array.

WattEV worked with many partners throughout the development of their various trucking depots, but as they worked on their Bakersfield location, one notable partner was the Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC), which assisted them in reaching the community. 

CCAC helped WattEV receive its $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC), connected them with drivers, and held community meetings to spread the word about the truck stop.

“We’ve been doing community organizing, asthma education, and climate equity work for about 10 years now and some of the biggest concerns we see in our communities today is the diesel pollution that is choking our youth,” said Gustavo Aguirre Jr., Climate and Environmental Justice Associate Director, at CCAC.

Aguirre went on to comment that when the organization envisioned a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy this project embodied that vision. 

“This just goes to show that there are no limits to what is possible for our communities. This is a huge step moving forward,” stated Aguirre. 

To cost-effectively and efficiently accelerate the transition to zero-emission truck transport for shippers and fleet operators, WattEV offers its own transport service for shippers with an innovative electric Truck-as-a-Service (TaaS) program. This business model provides fleets and individuals affordable access to Class 8 battery-electric trucks, reliable maintenance support, insurance, and entree to charging across WattEV’s entire network, all at a total cost of operation on par with diesel trucks.

WattEV has spent the past three years building out the first freight corridors in the nation for public-access, MHD electric vehicle charging. In addition to the three open truck charging plazas, WattEV is in the permitting and development phases for a grid-connected charging depot in California’s City of Blythe on Interstate 10, plus solar-powered charging depots on Interstate 5 in Sacramento, Gustine, and Taft. 

Additionally, WattEV is developing truck charging depots at the Port of Oakland, along Interstate 5 in Salem, Ore., and near the Seattle-Tacoma ports complex in Washington State, with numerous other sites in development.

The truck stop is located just north of the CA-99 freeway along CA-65 near James Road. It will serve heavy-duty electric trucks with routes connecting the San Joaquin Valley to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and inland destinations throughout Southern California and the West Coast.

Through a combination of business and technology innovations, WattEV creates charging infrastructure and data-driven workflows, providing truckers and fleet operators with the lowest total cost of ownership. 

WattEV’s goal is to get 12,000 heavy-duty electric trucks on California roads by the end of 2030, exceeding existing forecasts. The company plans to have 100 charging stations in operation by 2035. More information is available online at WattEV.com.

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Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at victoria@southkernsol.org.