Volvo LIGHTS Project Team Awarded the 2020 Innovation Award from Nonprofit BREATHE California

CE-CERT is one of 15 major partners involved in The Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) project that was awarded the Breath of Life Award on September 24th, 2020. BREATHE Southern California is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes clean air and healthy lungs through education, research, technology and advocacy. Each year, they recognize three extremely worthy corporate and civic leaders for their accomplishments in promoting clean air in Los Angeles.

“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.” 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

volvo lights BREATHE
Volvo LIGHTS Breathe Award ©Volvo

Volvo LIGHTS is a three year $90 million project that began in February 2020. The main purpose of the project is to demonstrate that we can reliably move electric trucks between Los Angeles’ two major ports and distribution points while producing less noise and zero emissions.

The overall approach of Volvo LIGHTS is to begin commercial introduction of heavy-duty zero emission vehicles (ZEV) trucks while developing and demonstrating multiple configurations of zero-emission Class 8 electric trucks utilizing a common modular battery-based platform. The project will deploy the electric trucks in a variety of customer fleets that operate medium and heavy-duty freight trips in the greater South Coast Air Basin.

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. 

UCR CE-CERT’s effort in this project is focused on vehicle performance evaluation and optimization, both in the laboratory and on the road. The evaluation will also include a deeper dive into vehicle lifecycle emissions. In addition, CE-CERT will develop novel algorithms for fleet management including dispatching in a constrained charging environment. CE-CERT is excited to be part of this large program that will show electric vehicle technology will make a difference 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.”

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