Forum Mobility and CBRE Investment Management create $400M JV to electrify trucking at California ports

Jessica Thompson

Electric truck and charging station company Forum Mobility is teaming up with CBRE Investment Management on a $400 million joint venture.

The partnership between Forum and CBRE’s investment arm to electrify the infrastructure of California’s coastal port communities and small independent truck operators is the latest deal involving a major real estate player and an electric or autonomous truck technology company.

Last year, real estate firm Alterra Property Group inked a deal with Embark Trucks, a San Francisco self-driving company, to build hubs for autonomous trucking. Industrial warehouse giant Prologis signed a similar deal with Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving technology subsidiary, last year.

Forum Mobility, of Oakland, Calif., and CBRE Investment Management’s joint venture plans to install electric truck depots at several California ports. These include Long Beach and Oakland.

The venture comes as the California Air Resources Board is considering rules that would require all of the Golden State’s drayage fleet — roughly 30,000 trucks — to be zero-emission by 2035. Drayage trucks haul cargo containers in and out of ports to warehouses and distribution centers.

The California Energy Commission estimates the state will need 157,000 medium and heavy-duty chargers by 2030 to comply with the proposed rules.

“With new rules coming soon from the California Air Resources Board, we help fleets and drivers looking to make the jump to electric,” Forum Mobility CEO Matt LeDucq said.

The plan centers around independent fleets using the joint venture’s charging network and providing motor carriers and shippers electric trucks bundled with charging services, LeDucq said. The joint venture will offer electric semi-tractors with charging services at a monthly price that’s competitive with diesel trucking, he added.

Forum Mobility and CBRE Investment have yet to provide pricing details.

CBRE Investment Management’s deal with Forum Mobility is its third investment in sustainable transportation since 2019, said Robert Shaw, managing director of private infrastructure for the commercial real estate giant.

In August, CBRE Investment Management announced a partnership with Altus Power of Stamford, Conn., to develop solar power generation, battery storage and electric-vehicle charging systems for its $30.2 billion portfolio, which has 600 properties in 17 countries.

The recent deal between Alterra Property Group and Embark Trucks involves scouting Sun Belt properties to build transfer points for autonomous trucking. Human drivers will transport freight to the hubs, which will be highway-adjacent. An autonomous truck will then haul the cargo over the highway to another depot, where a human driver will take over for last-mile delivery to the final destination. These properties are expected to come on line in 2024.

The Prologis partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo involves building highway-adjacent hubs for autonomous trucking. The first hub opened outside Dallas in July.

The first round of funding for Forum Mobility and CBRE Investment Management’s joint venture includes BRE Investment Management, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Elemental Excelerator, Obvious Ventures, Edison International and Overture.

San Francisco’s Homecoming Capital, a venture capital firm focused on low-emission climate change-related investments, contributed $100 million toward the joint venture.

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