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Daimler Truck North America, NextEra Energy Resources and BlackRock Renewable Power (BlackRock) today announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to lay the foundation for a joint venture (JV) to design, develop, install and operate a high-performance, nationwide US charging network for medium- and heavy-duty battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Start of operations is planned for this year, first sites are set to begin construction in 2023. Initial funding is expected to be comprised of approximately US$650m (EUR580m) divided equally among the three parties.

Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Truck, said in a statement: “The planned joint venture… is another building block in our global partnership strategy to accelerate the infrastructure required for carbon neutral commercial transportation. Whether in the US or in Europe, these kind of collaborations are essential to successfully tackle the urgent need for zero emission vehicles. [We are] paving the way for a nationwide infrastructure for battery electric and hydrogen powered commercial vehicles in the US.”

For electric charging or hydrogen refueling infrastructure along important transport routes, Daimler Trucks already collaborates with Shell, BP and TotalEnergies. Partnerships with Siemens Smart Infrastructure, Engie and EVBox Group as well as PowerElectronics in battery-electric charging are established. The planned joint venture with the Traton and Volvo groups for a European high-performance charging network is also in hand.

As in Europe, the lack of a publicly available, nationwide electric charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles in the US, especially for long-haul freight operations, remains one of the biggest barriers for widespread deployment of electric trucks. With formation of this JV, the three parties will be pooling their resources to address this challenge. The parties plan to build a network of charging sites on critical freight routes along the east and west coasts and in Texas by 2026, using existing infrastructure and amenities while adding complementary greenfield sites to fulfill anticipated customer demand. Initial focus will be on charging stations for battery electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles followed by hydrogen fueling stations.

The sites will also be available for light-duty vehicles.

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DTNA has expertise in developing electric trucks (it’ll start building the battery electric Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 for North America in 2022/23 while European e-truck production is well established) and, in cooperation with the local utility company Portland General Electric (PGE), opened the first public charging site for commercial vehicles in the US in Portland, Oregon.

NextEra Energy Resources is a significant investor in electric infrastructure and brings experience optimising renewable energy and grid integration.

BlackRock Renewable Power operates one of the largest renewable power equity investment platforms in the world with over $9.5bn in total commitments and investments in over 350 wind and solar projects across 15 countries and five continents.