Australasia’s first fully electric, true zero emission side loader waste collection truck

Diesel is becoming a dirty word around the world as research about the emissions turns up some unpalatable facts about their effect on health: the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions they produce contribute to up to 50,000 premature deaths in the UK alone from air pollution. In Germany, judges have decided that cities have the right to ban diesel on their streets and Rome’s mayor wants an outright ban from 2024.

Car manufacturers are paying heed, with Toyota indicating it will never launch a new diesel and Fiat Chrysler announcing plans to stop producing diesel cars within four years. The sale of new diesel vehicles has plummeted by 17% in the UK and resale values have also fallen. The sustainable solution is to avoid a rush back to petrol engines and the consequent increase in carbon emissions, and forwards to electric vehicles.

Here in New Zealand we’re getting used to seeing hybrid and electric cars on our roads, but it’s a different story when it comes to heavy commercial vehicles. But after some creative thinking and what has felt, at times, like a 3-D puzzle, EnviroWaste is incredibly proud to have developed the first fully electric, true zero emission side loader truck in Australasia.  

Producing electric trucks presents a number of challenges thanks in a large part to the greater demands of long-distance and heavy loads. Waste trucks come with a curveball of their own: the distances they cover are usually short, but the hydraulic system on the back requires a significant amount of power and is traditionally driven by the diesel engine.

The challenge was to get a fully electric truck on the road, without a whiff of diesel around it, that is commercially viable, operationally efficient and can sustain enough battery charge to keep going all day.

Three years ago, this was little more than a pipedream – achieving operational efficiency out of an electric truck was simply not commercially viable. However, pioneering the industry with cutting-edge technology is nothing new for EnviroWaste. With a dedicated in-house team and the right partners, the impossible is now a reality: we have developed a vehicle that has met and, in some cases, exceeded our goals.

To get there, we overcame challenges around battery chemistry, motor design and complex algorithms, to achieve the operational efficiency we desired.

Work in this area is moving very quickly and battery technologies are getting stronger and more efficient: Our first truck is fitted with 180kW batteries, but by the end of the year we will have 230-250kW batteries and it won’t be much longer before they reach 300kW. This will allow us to explore different truck designs, with even greater payloads and allow us to keep them on the road for longer, enabling them to collect more waste without having to pause for a recharge.

The development and deployment of the finished truck has been a collaboration with Smith Electric Automotive (SEA) and Superior Pak in Australia. It was vital that we created a vehicle that was truly fully electric and would have absolutely no reliance on a diesel engine, generator or range extender, as they used to be known.

We’ve now got there and we couldn’t be happier. We all know about Kiwi ingenuity, but this truck has got it in spades. The first vehicle delivered was a Hino cab chassis, which was converted to dual-drive and had a superior Pak body fitted. It then underwent an electric vehicle conversion and was kitted out with a unique hydraulic operating package. It also has a high-efficiency regeneration system that improves braking and safety, and recharges the batteries while the truck is in operation.

Combined, these changes, and many more besides, give us a truck that we believe is the lightest and most efficient in its class and is packed with safety features. It is unique, it helps the environment, and adds to our commitment to deliver the highest environmental standards, with the most innovative and sustainable solutions.

Nearly 30 years ago we pioneered the process in New Zealand of converting landfill methane gas into electricity and our Hampton Downs Landfill is today, capable of supplying the electricity needs of around 5,600 households a year. Now, having pioneered the first fully electric side loader truck, and as we introduce even more into our fleet, we will be able to further reduce the polluting harm from diesel engines.

By Fran de Sanary
EnviroWaste Transport Manager

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