NFI’s Ambitious Zero-Emission Commitment Leads the Industry in Sustainable Goods Movement

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The supply chain industry isn’t known for the quick adoption of sustainable operations, but a leader in third-party logistics is seeking to change that narrative. NFI, one of the nation’s oldest and largest supply chain solutions providers, is pioneering the electrification of zero-emission freight movement in North America. Attendees of the August 31 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo got a glimpse into the future of supply chain sustainability and walked away with one clear message: NFI is leading the industry’s transition to zero-emission goods movement.

Announced through a series of press events, NFI unveiled an ambitious electrification goal that includes deploying Class 8 battery-electric tractors (BETs), charging networks, solar power, energy storage, and other zero-emission technologies. Several public agencies, OEMs, and projects support these initiatives, including the Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative (JETSI) and Electrify America. 

Through these initiatives, by 2023, NFI will:

  • Operate the first 100% zero-emission drayage fleet in the U.S. with the deployment of 60 battery-electric tractors
  • Establish the first zero-emission goods movement corridor in the U.S.
  • Develop one of the United States’ largest networks of commercial fleet chargers, including 38 high-capacity DC fast chargers
  • Install solar energy capable of generating 2.4 million kWh of zero-emission energy annually
  • Build more than 5MWh of energy storage
  • Help establish one of the nation’s first training programs for zero-emission vehicle techs at two community colleges
  • Build the nation’s first heavy-duty electric vehicle maintenance shop
NFI electric truck with trailer

The JETSI pilot project is funded through the California Air Resource Board (CARB) by a grant from California Climate Investments (CCI) and the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Clean Transportation Program (CTP). Additional funding is also provided by the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC), the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (South Coast AQMD) Clean Fuels Fund, Southern California Edison’s Charge Ready Transport Program, and the San Pedro Bay Ports

Cultivating a Sustainable Culture

Social responsibility has always been a part of NFI’s fabric. Through years of early electric truck demonstration projects, NFI’s teams have gained valuable knowledge to position the company and the industry for large-scale initiatives and made progress to protect residents in communities where NFI operates.

In 2018, NFI became a member of the Daimler Freightliner Innovation Fleet Project, which is funded by South Coast AQMD’s Clean Fuels Fund, U.S. EPA’s Clean Air Technology Initiative, and the San Pedro Bay Ports. Prior to the delivery of the ten electric trucks, NFI installed its first charging stations to support the incoming Southern California electric fleet. The first of ten Class 8 Freightliner eCascadia tractors began piloting in August 2019. NFI’s team tested the battery-electric vehicles under real-world conditions and provided feedback to help enhance the integration of commercial electric vehicles. To date, the fleet has traveled over 500,000 zero-emission miles.

Less than a year later, NFI became one of the first fleets in North America to pilot Volvo VNR battery-electric tractors through the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project, funded through CARB by a grant from CCI and South Coast AQMD’s Clean Fuels Fund. In partnership with Volvo Trucks, NFI helped to prove that VNR electric trucks can handle the daily rigors of freight movement and helped gather real-world operational data critical to the successful commercial scaling of these vehicles. With the support of the LIGHTS project, NFI also installed solar panels, five automotive charging stations, two 150kW charging stations with four dispensers, added two battery-electric yard tractors, and eight battery-electric forklifts at its Chino facility.

In January 2020, NFI made the nation’s largest investment in battery-electric yard tractors and supporting infrastructure. Twenty-seven Kalmar Ottawa T2E battery-electric yard tractors replaced diesel-fueled yard tractors in Southern California. With funding from the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP), Volvo LIGHTS project, and its own $4.2M investment, NFI deployed the largest fleet of battery-electric yard tractors in the United States.

The company’s newest series of “firsts” is helping to drive the industry forward and create a blueprint for sustainable, zero-emissions goods movement, specifically through:

  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and other air emissions, particularly in disadvantaged communities
  • Ensuring excellent working conditions for drivers
  • Maintaining a culture of safety, which is essential for reducing accidents and costs to the environment and society

Zero-Emission Status: Deploying 60 Battery-Electric Vehicles

NFI’s deployment of 60 battery-electric drayage tractors will allow the company to meet its goal to become the first 100% zero-emission fleet operator. The JETSI project will help fund 50 tractors — 30 Daimler Freightliner eCascadias and 20 Volvo VNRs. NFI will deploy 10 additional Volvo VNRs, funded by U.S. EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant Program and South Coast AQMD’s Clean Fuels Fund, in partnership with Volvo Trucks North America and Switch-On.

The JETSI project, led by South Coast AQMD, is the largest commercial deployment of battery-electric trucks in North America to date, helping to significantly increase the number of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks available for goods movement while achieving necessary emission reductions. With lead project funders CARB, South Coast AQMD, and CEC, this project is the largest investment and pilot deployment of battery-electric trucks of its kind.

Shaping a more sustainable future with electric tractors

Battery-electric trucks enable NFI to accelerate its transition to a zero-emission fleet, lower its carbon footprint, reduce operating costs, and provide a better environment for drivers and the community. The project, which includes 50 additional tractors deployed by Schneider, is poised to reduce five tons of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) annually along Southern California’s I-710 corridor, as well as eliminate 8,247 metric tons of GHG emissions. NFI’s zero-emission fleet will operate almost exclusively in disadvantaged communities and contribute to replacing the equivalent of more than 690,000 diesel-gallons annually.

“Projects like JETSI are needed to help accelerate the large-scale manufacturing of zero-emission trucks. They also demonstrate to other fleet operators how zero-emission technologies are commercially competitive, especially when it comes to cost savings on fuel and maintenance. Putting more of these trucks on our roads and highways as soon as we can is crucial to cleaning up the air in communities adjacent to our ports and along the highways now crammed with diesel-powered trucks.”

Liane Randolph, CARB Chair

A Leader in Commercial Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

A first-of-its-kind commercial charging facility will enable NFI to power its fleet of electric freight trucks and continue to drive the EV industry forward. Selected by NFI as a trusted and reliable partner, Electrify America will be providing funding to assist NFI in meeting its ambitious electrification goals and preparing for the future of freight transportation. 

With this partnership, NFI’s team will build and support a mix of nineteen 350 kW ultra-fast DC cabinets with thirty-eight dispensers slated for completion by December 2023. The chargers will serve freight trucks used for port drayage at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, traveling 100+ mile routes to pick up containers from the ports and transport them back to NFI’s Ontario, California facility. 

To bolster resiliency and reduce costs, NFI is also installing one megawatt (1 MW) of solar and five megawatt-hours (5 MWh) of battery storage to generate and store renewable electricity. Incorporating solar and battery storage allows the charging infrastructure to operate independently from the grid and creates resiliency to charge the heavy-duty fleet.

“As NFI continues to spearhead supply chain sustainability and minimize the industry’s environmental impact, many elements need to align to ensure we continue making progress. We are excited for this opportunity to collaborate with the charging infrastructure experts at Electrify America as we move beyond our demonstration projects and scale our Ontario facility infrastructure to support a 100% electric drayage fleet.”

Bill Bliem, Senior Vice President Fleet Services, NFI

NFI’s Early-Adoption is Proving Concepts for the Future

Run on Less

NFI, along with Volvo Trucks North America, participated in Run on Less – Electric (RoL-E), an electric truck technology demonstration that showcases advancements in freight efficiency. RoL-E is a joint effort between the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and energy non-profit RMI to demonstrate how battery-electric trucks operating in real-world scenarios can help fleets reduce emissions while reliably transporting freight. The three-week run kicked off on September 2, 2021, at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, California, and ended on September 19 at a press event in New York City. 

NFI participated in the demonstration with a Volvo VNR electric tractor and a Kalmar Ottawa electric yard tractor, the only company with two participating vehicles. Throughout RoL-E, the vehicles were continuously monitored to report various metrics, including daily miles traveled, energy consumed, the number of pickups and deliveries, vehicle speed, and charging sessions. In total, the run traversed 6,900 miles, made 1,692 deliveries, charged with 10,331 kWH, and saved over 11 tons of CO2

Hyliion Hypertruck Council

In spring 2021, NFI joined Hyliion in its Hypertruck Innovation Council, a select group of fleet, logistic, and transportation industry leaders that actively support the development of Hyliion’s Hypertruck powertrain solution. The Hyliion Hypertruck ERX™ is an electric powertrain charged by natural gas for Class 8 commercial trucks. Utilizing 700+ commercial natural gas vehicle filling stations across North America, the powertrain enables long-range and quick refueling. When fueled with renewable natural gas, the technology can provide net-negative carbon emissions to commercial fleets.

The council represents over 100,000 Class 8 commercial trucks globally and will collaborate closely with Hyliion to provide key user insights in the development of the Hypertruck. As a council member, NFI will be the first to have access to and put real-world miles on the Hypertruck ERX demonstration units, providing valuable fleet and driver feedback and a focus on reducing carbon emissions. With an eye on furthering sustainable practices in the commercial trucking industry, NFI shares Hyliion’s focus on reducing carbon emissions without sacrificing performance.

Committed to Making a Lasting Impact

NFI is committed to being a leader and partner to shippers and the road freight industry on zero-emissions goods movement. In total, the company is committing nearly $23M in investments as a partner in the most significant initiatives advancing zero-emission technology for the transportation industry. NFI’s team also proactively contributes to electric vehicle panels and supply chain forums across North America to spread the knowledge accumulated throughout its tenure as a sustainability leader.

Going beyond small-scale pilot projects, NFI dedicates its efforts to meaningfully scaling zero-emission goods movement while analyzing the full impact of its operations. Its team actively seeks out transformative partnerships with leading OEMs, customers, public entities, and technology providers to develop customer-focused sustainability solutions. “Throughout our experience, we’ve learned that having the right partners, technology, and access to safe, reliable, and fast-charging infrastructure is essential to the successful implementation of EVs,” says Bliem. With each of those puzzle pieces now in place, it’s no surprise NFI is leading the transition to zero-emission goods movement.

NFI’s Sustainability Timeline

NFI Sustainability Timeline



NFI — NFI is a fully integrated North American supply chain solutions provider headquartered in Camden, N.J. Privately held by the Brown family since its inception in 1932, NFI generates more than $3 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 15,000 associates. NFI owns facilities globally and operates approximately 60 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space. Its dedicated fleet consists of over 4,600 tractors and 13,000 trailers operated by 3,900 company drivers and leveraging partnerships with 1,700 independent contractors. NFI has a significant drayage presence at nearly every major U.S. port, leveraging the services of an additional 1,200 independent contractors. The company’s business lines include dedicated transportation, distribution, brokerage, transportation management, port drayage, intermodal, global logistics, and real estate. For more information about NFI, visit www.nfiindustries.com or call 1-877-NFI-3777.

About California Climate Investments JETSI is part of California Climate Investments, 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. 

About Clean Transportation Program — JETSI is partially-funded by a grant from the Clean Transportation Program | California Energy Commission, which invests up to $100 million annually to promote the accelerated development and deployment of advanced transportation and fuel technologies in order to achieve California’s ambitious goals on climate change, air quality, petroleum reduction, and adoption of zero-emission vehicles and to support the state’s sustainable, long-term economic development.

About JETSI — JETSI represents an unprecedented industry-wide collaboration among more than 20 public and private stakeholders. The project will be led by South Coast AQMD along with support from CARB, CEC, NFI Industries, Schneider, Daimler Trucks North America, and Volvo Trucks North America. Partners including Green Paradigm Consulting, Power Electronics, Electrify Commercial, Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), Coalition for Clean Air, CALSTART, Electric Power Research Institute, Ricardo Strategic Consulting, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, Black & Veatch, and the University of California, Riverside.  The Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC), Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, and Southern California Edison will be contributing to the project.

About Electrify America — Electrify America LLC, the largest open DC fast-charging network in the U.S., is investing $2 billion over 10 years in Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure, education, and access. The investment will enable millions of Americans to discover the benefits of electric driving and support the build-out of a nationwide network of workplace, community and highway chargers that are convenient and reliable. Electrify America expects to have more than 1,700 total charging stations with over 9,500 chargers by end of 2025. During this period, the company will be expanding to 49 states and the District of Columbia, delivering on its commitment to support increased ZEV adoption with a network that is comprehensive, technologically advanced and customer friendly. Electrify America earned the “2020 EV Charging Infrastructure Best-in-Test” award from umlaut, an independent testing & validation company, as published in Charged Electric Vehicles Magazine noting the company’s accessibility and seamless customer experience. Electrify America’s Electrify Home® offers home charging solutions for consumers with flexible installation options. Electrify Commercial® provides expert solutions for businesses looking to develop electric vehicle charging programs. For more, visit www.electrifyamerica.com and media.electrifyamerica.com.

Acronym Glossary
ACTAdvanced Clean Transportation
BETBattery-electric tractor
California HVIPCalifornia Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project
CARBCalifornia Air Resource Board
CCICalifornia Climate Investments
CECCalifornia Energy Commission
CTPClean Transportation Program
EVElectric vehicle
GHGGreenhouse gas
JETSIJoint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative
kW, kWhkilowatt, kilowatt hours
MSRCMobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee
MW, MWhMegawatt, megawatt hours
NACFENorth American Council for Freight Efficiency
NOxNitrogen oxides
OEMOriginal equipment manufacturer
PMParticulate matter
RoL-ERun on Less – Electric
South Coast AQMDSouth Coast Air Quality Management District
Volvo LIGHTSVolvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions