Chicago to purchase quiet, clean, expensive all-electric Motiv garbage trucks
The duty cycles of garbage trucks, local delivery trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles are not well suited to internal combustion engines. Urban or suburban routes with lots of idling, starting and stopping makes such vehicles ideal for electrification. Enter the Motiv Power Systems all-electric refuse truck.
With one already in operation, the City of Chicago has contracted to purchase up to 20 of the Motiv Electric Refuse Vehicle (ERV) for an estimated $13.4 million over the next 5 years, reports Charged EVs.
That works out to $670,000 per truck, but don’t forget the enormous lifetime savings in fuel and maintenance costs over a heavy-duty diesel garbage truck. Each ERV will save an estimated 2,688 gallons of diesel fuel and 42 tons of greenhouse gases annually.
How does it work?
The ERV is powered by the clever electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) modular technology favored by Motiv and used in their electric school buses already operating in California. It boasts a total power of 375 hp with a gross weight of 60,000 pounds, and can haul up to 9 tons or 20 cubic yards of trash.
If you’re saying to yourself, “an electric truck that large must require a ton of batteries!” you are not quite right. It’s actually more than a ton. The ERV can reach a top speed of 50 mph, travel 60 miles and provide 70 compaction cycles on a single charge, drawing electricity from a massive 200-kWh reserve divided among 10 battery packs.
Now if you’re saying to yourself, “it must take a really long time to recharge all that battery capacity!” you are right, but it doesn’t matter too much for a garbage truck. The ERV comes with a 60-kW capable onboard charger, although Motiv claims a realistic charge time of 8 hours with their Universal Fast Charger. Fortunately, we can’t think of any garbage trucks that don’t take at least 8 hours off over the course of a day.
If you’re concerned about performance in the brutal Chicago winters, you may have a valid point. Motiv claims an ambient temperature operational range of -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees, but cold weather will shorten the range of any electric vehicle. It will be interesting to track the real-world performance of the trucks in the winter months.
Plenty of benefits, but at a hefty price
The 20 Motiv trucks will make up just a small portion of the city’s 600-truck refuse collection fleet. However, 60 miles of range will allow the ERV trucks to cover virtually any of the city’s routes, and those lucky enough to have an electric garbage truck come to their neighborhood certainly won’t miss the noise or the fumes. The atmosphere will also thank each truck for the estimated 42 tons of greenhouse gases mitigated.
The main disadvantage, of course, is the high initial cost. A conventional diesel garbage truck costs about $250,000, while a natural gas-powered version runs close to $300,000. Motiv will have to lower its cost considerably to be truly competitive - cutting out nearly 2,700 gallons of diesel fuel annually could net close to $10,000 in annual savings depending on electricity rates, and maintenance cost reductions could be enormous, but that’s still a huge initial cost difference to make up.
Live in the Chicago area and want to check the ERV out for yourself? The public is invited for ride-alongs on September 23 at the CALSTART High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum Ride and Drive event.