LAX, Other Big Airports to Test Electric Service Vehicles


Some of the nation’s biggest airports--including Los Angeles International--will test whether electric-powered baggage movers, food delivery trucks, rental car shuttles and other service vehicles can cut air pollution economically.

The Electric Power Research Institute, an electric utility industry group based in Palo Alto, and Edison Electric Institute, the utilities’ trade association, will announce the national research project today at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

LAX, Logan and New York’s LaGuardia International and their local electric utilities will co-sponsor the tests. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, which already sponsors several electric vehicle projects, will team up with LAX.

“LAX is a perfect showplace for a wide range of electric transportation alternatives,” said Thomas Doughty, DWP’s director of electric transportation. “It’s a worldwide location, it attracts worldwide visitors and it’s large in physical size, so it has the capability to handle a wide range of electric transportation systems.”


Proponents hope the research will show that air pollution generated by thousands of service vehicles traveling night and day at the airport can be virtually eliminated while saving money through more efficient energy use.

Current gasoline- and diesel-fueled airport equipment spends much of the time idling, which wastes energy. Electric vehicles use no energy while sitting and are more efficient in all modes of operation, officials of the research institute say.

LAX will begin tests by the fall with at least three electric shuttle buses, two pickups and two sedans.

Doughty said that eventually the DWP would like to experiment with electric vehicles used outside the airport proper, such as hotel shuttles and even rental cars.

Separately, the United Airlines facility at LAX began testing 10 electric vehicles more than a year ago. And in March, United began testing vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. These vehicles are refueled at a facility installed by Southern California Gas Co.