- Estes purchased 1,200 new tractors and 3,800 trailers as it experiences "exceptional growth," the carrier announced Tuesday.
- Fuel-system provider Hexagon Agility announced the next day that Estes ordered 50 natural-gas-powered trucks, to be delivered to its California fleet this spring. The carrier already has 21 natural gas trucks operating in Texas.
- Along with its equipment purchases, Estes opened 850 new terminal doors and hired more than 500 drivers so far this year, according to the announcement. The carrier said it has more than 10,000 doors, 265 terminals and more than 20,000 employees, nationwide.
Surging demand for truck capacity has prompted the country's biggest fleets to up capital expenditures and invest in expansion. Old Dominion and J.B. Hunt announced large equipment spends at their most recent earnings calls.
Estes describes itself as North America's largest privately owned freight carrier. "We have a robust network of drivers, facilities, and equipment across the nation, which keeps us flexible and responsive in this rapidly evolving climate," Estes said in a press release Monday.
Adding trucks to the fleet that run on alternative fuels could be considered another investment in flexibility, especially in California. The state has passed, and is in the process of passing, a number of measure to crack down on supply chain emissions. That means trucking firms relying on diesel will need to pivot to different equipment.
The California Air Resources Board's Advanced Clean Trucks rule, as one example, is set to ban all new, non-diesel sales by 2045. And the San Pedro Bay ports set emissions goals and are working to push trucking in the direction of sustainability.
While these regulations were set with fully electric trucks in mind, the Port of Long Beach considers natural gas an acceptable alternative as battery-electric and hydrogen systems continue to develop. Along with electric trucks, the port is exempting natural gas trucks from an impending emissions fee.
"Right now, if a truck owner is making a choice of what to purchase in advance of the upcoming CARB regulatory deadline, we want them to choose the cleanest available technology — a [low nitrogen oxide] truck — as opposed to purchasing diesel," Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a press release.
Estes' natural gas trucks will be equipped with Cummins-Westport's near-zero emissions natural gas engines and Hexagon Agility's Blue iQ, according to the press release. Although the trucks were designed with compressed natural gas in mind, the fuel system can support renewable natural gas, as well. Estes opted for RNG.
"Renewable natural gas is the lowest-emission fuel for truck fleets available today," Eric Bippus, Hexagon Agility’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in the release. "Because [it's] reliable, lower cost than diesel, and widely available, RNG is an excellent fuel choice for contract logistics fleets."