Volvo LIGHTS Project Team Wins 2020 Innovation Award from Nonprofit BREATHE Southern California

The Volvo LIGHTS project in Southern California was named the 2020 Innovation Award Honoree at the recent Breath of Life Awards Gala. The event, which was held virtually Sept. 24, celebrated influential leaders in the Southern California community for accomplishments that align with the organization’s mission of promoting clean air and human health through research, education, advocacy and technology.

“We are honored to recognize the Volvo LIGHTS project team with this year’s Innovation award,” said Marc Carrel, president and CEO at BREATHE Southern California. “The project team has developed a truly unique and comprehensive approach to introduce this transformational, zero-emission technology into the market, and we are thrilled that the pilot project is occurring here in Southern California.”

The Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project is a collaboration between 15 public and private partners to develop a blueprint to successfully introduce battery-electric trucks and equipment into the market at scale. The project is led by Volvo Group and South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD), along with partners NFI Industries, Dependable Supply Chain Services, TEC Equipment, Trillium, Greenlots, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Southern California Edison, CALSTART, the University of California, Riverside CE-CERT, Reach Out, Rio Hondo College, and San Bernardino Valley College.

“Through the Volvo LIGHTS project, we are designing an end-to-end solution to ensure the successful commercialization of our battery-electric Volvo VNR Electric trucks later this year,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “We couldn’t achieve our mission without partnering with our trusted dealer, infrastructure experts, customers, public agencies, universities and other stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to share our learnings from the project to contribute to the future of commercial transportation electrification.”

In February 2020, Volvo Trucks North America first demonstrated its Volvo VNR Electric project trucks at the Volvo LIGHTS Innovation Showcase in Southern California. TEC Equipment, Volvo Trucks North America’s largest West Coast dealership, will be providing local support as customers deploy Volvo’s VNR Electric trucks for real-world trials, including managing all necessary maintenance and repair services. Two Southern California fleets, NFI and Dependable Highway Express, are piloting the VNR Electric trucks in their daily routes, as well as deploying battery-electric yard trucks and forklifts at their freight facilities, with procurement support from CALSTART.

Greenlots and Trillium are supporting the installation of public and private networked charging stations that will help ensure the fleets have access to cost-effective and reliable power, while Southern California Edison analyzes the impacts of charging on the grid. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have also provided infrastructure planning support to help facilitate early adoption of battery-electric trucks for port drayage.

The wide-scale electrification of the transportation system will require a highly skilled and specialized work force to support, maintain and repair advanced electric drivetrains and its increasingly sophisticated technology. To assist with the region’s workforce development, Rio Hondo College and San Bernardino Valley College have launched heavy-duty electric truck technician training programs, with classes already underway this fall. The two colleges are also collaborating with Volvo Trucks and local community outreach organization, Reach Out, for technical outreach and developing training materials for first responders. Finally, UCR CE-CERT is using project data to develop algorithms to improve truck routing.

“The Volvo LIGHTS project is a perfect example of collaboration between businesses and government to turn zero-emissions freight transport into a widespread reality,” said Judy Mitchell, governing board member at South Coast AQMD and CARB. “Our hope is that this project paves the way for more emission free trucks and charging infrastructure, which will help improve the air quality in Southern California.”

Mitchell and Keith Brandis, vice president of partnerships and strategic solutions at Volvo Group, virtually accepted the award on behalf of the Volvo LIGHTS project team at the Sept. 24 ceremony. You can view their remarks here.

The Volvo LIGHTS project was made possible by an award to South Coast AQMD of $44.8 million from California Air Resources Board (CARB) as part of California Climate Investments (CCI). CCI is a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

To learn more about the Volvo LIGHTS project, please visit

CAPTION: Keith Brandis, Vice President of Partnerships and Strategic Solutions at Volvo Group, accepts the 2020 Innovation Award as part of the Volvo LIGHTS project team, which was honored at BREATHE Southern California’s Breath of Life awards ceremony on Sept. 24.

CAPTION: The BREATHE Southern California 2020 Innovation Award was given to the Volvo LIGHTS project team during the virtual Breath of Life Gala on September 24.

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