Diesel garbage trucks average 3 miles per gallon. It’s time to go electric

Last month, we featured a story out of New York City where new electric garbage trucks are being tested on the streets of Brooklyn to take the sound and smell of exhaust fumes out of the waste collection equation. The garbage truck in that story was Mack’s LR Electric, a greener take on the truck manufacturer’s current, diesel-bellowing best-selling model. 

We mentioned the LR Electric in our September story, but today we’re exploring the massive impacts that electric garbage trucks, in general, could have by replacing today’s gas-guzzling monsters.

The problem with garbage trucks is that their diesel engines average 3 miles per gallon. As Quartz reports, one truck belches roughly 20 times the carbon emissions of the average American home. 

Gas mileage isn’t their only problem. Garbage trucks live a rough life, beating themselves up badly as their slow, regular routes — dotted with tons of brake-pad wearing stops — put them right in the sweet spot of what diesel engines don’t do efficiently. What this tells us is that replacing diesel-powered garbage trucks will not only help spare the environment but also help waste management services save money.

“While EV trash trucks will be more expensive than conventional trucks, they have the potential to save big on per-mile costs, including energy and maintenance,” said Dan Niel, a Wall Street Journal writer who took the LR Electric for a test drive.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Mack’s LR Electric is that it’s armed with regenerative brakes. As the truck comes to one of its many stops, the energy generated by stopping is harvested by the brakes. Such energy harvesting systems can add over 100 extra horsepower at the driver’s glove tips.

Looking forward, we know that Los Angeles has plans to deploy 1,100 electric garbage trucks while New York City aims to replace its entire fleet with electric garbage trucks by 2040.

Image source: Mack

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