Electric garbage trucks: another way for cities to tackle emissions

With increasing political pressures to drop diesel and other fossil fuel emissions, city governments around the world are looking to green their own fleets, including electric garbage trucks, buses and other zero emissions vehicles. Let’s hop around the world to see just what is on offer for cities looking to green their garbage truck fleets. 

Why electric garbage trucks?

Electric garbage trucks will pass nearly every residence and business space in a city almost every week. That’s a lot of miles that are usually powered by diesel, and at quite appalling fuel consumption – in Sacramento, California, its existing diesel garbage trucks do as few as 2.8 miles per gallon, and considering some garbage trucks do 200 miles or more daily that is an awful lot of pollution. 

Sacramento leads the US

The Californian capital Sacramento has announced it is to be the second city in the United States to use an electric garbage truck on its operations. The Motiv powered truck could well save 24,000 litres of fuel a year to the city, significantly tackling fuel costs. 

“The City of Sacramento has a very pro-active sustainability policy, showcased by being voted the #1 Government Green Fleet in North America in 2013. Reducing harmful vehicle emissions in the Sacramento region is a primary focus of our Sustainability Policy, and the most effective way to achieve that goal is to implement electric vehicles into our fleet,” said Mark Stevens, Fleet Manager for the City of Sacramento.


Electric garbage trucks, Volvo.

Volvo Electric garbage trucks.
Driveline: Two electric motors with 370 kW max power (260 kW cont. power) with a Volvo 2-speed transmission.
Max torque electric motors 850 Nm.
Energy storage: Lithium-ion batteries, 200-300 kWh.
Range: Up to 200 km.

Bigger players in Europe

While the US effort is rather modest and only green conscious California has even taken a baby step in that direction, there are cities that have gone into electric garbage trucks in a bigger way. Hamburg in Germany already draws all its electricity from renewable sources so any electric vehicle will start with very low emissions.

Volvo Trucks has taken orders for its FE Electric electric garbage trucks for deployment in Hamburg, Germany’s second biggest city. “Today, each of our 300 conventional refuse vehicles emits approximately 31.300 kg carbon dioxide every year. An electrically powered refuse truck with battery that stands a full shift of eight to ten hours is a breakthrough in technology,” said Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Siechau, CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg.

Electric garbage trucks from Byd

The new BYD electric garbage trucks utilizes its battery pack to provide propulsion
(to move it forward and backward)
as well as for the operation of its hydraulic system —
with the truck possessing a range of 76 miles per full charge and a charge time of only 2–3 hours.

China does it best!

Chinese electric vehicle companies really lead the way when it comes to city transport solutions. While one or two electric garbage trucks are delivered here or there in North America and Europe, Chinese BYD has just taken an order for 500 to be delivered to Shenzhen in China. That’s a lot of pollution being reduced! CleanTechnica reported in May, “The vehicles are absolute workhorses, with a 280 kilometer | 174 mile range when fully loaded and a hauling capacity of 10.6 cubic meters | 374 cubic feet, the T10ZT will feel at home in just about any city around the world.”

BYD has already taken steps to tackle the North American market and dodge Trump’s trade war by building a truck factory in Lancaster, California. We can expect to see the Chinese electric vehicle giant making waves in areas Tesla doesn’t find glamorous enough in coming years – just watch!