If an electric refuse truck can be created to introduce more pros than cons, I believe someone will corner the market and create a truck that is both reliable, more efficiently/self-powered and better for the world we live in. Time will tell.

John Paglia III

 

I believe there is an opportunity in the waste refuse market for an electric powered truck. With that said, there are many obstacles that the technology will need to overcome when it is faced with the realization and the demands the waste industry will challenge the technology to overcome. In the past decade, we have introduced increased emission compliance for diesel engines. This has changed the efficiency, power, range and reliability of the diesel motors post-2007. Due to other factors like fuel, labor, and oil, operating and maintenance cost of collection, trucks post-2007 are higher than they used to be.

 

Challenges

The tradeoff of these new diesel trucks carries a general consensus no matter who you speak to—increased operating and maintenance cost with lower reliability and longevity of powertrain components. Ask any hauler who wants to spend $200,000 to $350,000 for a diesel truck that is more expensive, unreliable, but yet still picks up the same amount of waste as a truck from the 1980s but it is 3x more expensive to purchase. The answer will be that none of us enjoy swallowing that asset cost. It is even harder when new trucks are not reliable due to failed sensors/new emission components. This increased asset cost comes for a number of manufacturing and economic reasons. The first challenge an electric refuse truck will face will be its come-to-market asset cost. The manufacturer will need to come in at a price point that can be justified.

It is no secret that refuse trucks need horsepower and torque. The electric truck should have no problem creating on-demand electric power. The question becomes what the range will equal to go along with it. Refuse trucks are generally stop and go, all day long. The range will be a challenge. The last thing an operator needs is a truck out of charge, away from the yard or charging station. I would imagine, as a start, the electric truck would need to start as a hybrid form. Instead of a diesel motor, have a generator/turbine of some sort that could create power via diesel or natural gas and extend the range. Wrightspeed Powertrains of Almeda, CA has technology based around this concept (www.wrightspeed.com).

Eventually, I would like to see the range extended solely by brake heat or solar power, backed up by larger ranged batteries and a nightly home charging station. Electric refuse trucks would be a welcome idea if their operating cost was consistent, maintenance was reduced, range extended, and ease of operation was favorable compared to diesel and natural gas motors of today.

 

Moving Forward

Increased technology in diesel motors has added a sensor for just about everything. Sensors to read oil, coolant and soot levels is just a start. The problem with all of these sensors is that they fail prematurely or give false readings leading the ECM to shut down a perfectly oiled or lubed engine or transmission. When all sensors are working, new diesel motors exhaust cleaner emissions into our atmosphere. In my opinion, that is all the good that has come out from it though. They are less efficient from a fuel standpoint, have an increased maintenance cost, have more downtime and are proving to be lower in longevity over the life of the asset. If an electric refuse truck can be created to combat all of these struggles and introduce more pros than cons, I believe someone will corner the market and create a truck that is both reliable, more efficiently/self-powered and better for the world we live in. Time will tell. I support the idea greatly. If you do not believe in electric cars or trucks, go take a ride in a Tesla. One stomp of the throttle will have you laughing at the power created from solely electricity. It has been from that point forward (four years ago); I have wanted someone to move this technology to our industry.

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.

 

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