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Electric power is the future, even for garbage trucks

The Mack LR Electric garbage truck should be way quieter and far cleaner than its diesel-burning competition.

Mack LR Electric Garbage Truck
The LR Electric garbage truck is far quieter and produces no tailpipe emissions.
Mack Trucks

Garbage trucks are not something we usually cover here on Roadshow, but sometimes weird, off-beat or otherwise unusual topics are worth our attention. In this case, Mack Trucks is gearing up to build battery-powered refuse haulers, which promise to be far cleaner and quieter than their diesel-burning counterparts.

The truck-maker recently delivered a prototype version of its new LR Electric rig to Republic Services, a waste-handling and recycling company, for extensive testing. The battery-powered garbage truck will be put through its paces on a residential collection route in North Carolina to see how it performs in the real world and to find out what kind of range it provides. Mack will take the learnings from this evaluation to further refine the LR Electric before full production begins next year. 

Whether it's a family sedan, a light-duty pickup or, yes, a hulking garbage truck, going electric offers a host of benefits. In particular, Mack's new battery-powered litter lorry will cut down on noise and eliminate tailpipe emissions. For these reasons, and others, it's perfect for bustling cities like New York or San Francisco. The last thing anyone wants to hear at 5 a.m. is a clattering, smoke-belching garbage truck just outside their apartment window. This one should be much more pleasant.

The Mack LR Electric is hauled around by a duet of motors. Combined, they deliver 536 horsepower, which isn't too shabby. But as always with electric vehicles, it's the torque that counts, and this one's output is crazier than lighting fireworks off at a gas station. The LR Electric is ready to smoke its tires with 4,051 pound-feet at zero rpm. That twisty goodness gets routed through a two-speed transmission to the rear axles. Yes, axles plural.

Mack LR Electric Garbage Truck

Plug it in, plug it in.

Mack Trucks

Four lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries store the energy needed to produce all that torque. No word on this machine's driving range, but those electron reservoirs are juiced by a 150-kW charging system that conforms to the SAE J1772 standard.

The LR Electric undergoing testing in North Carolina is fitted with a Heil Command-SST body, though different variants will also be offered. Setting it apart from other garbage trucks, this one is also adorned with a copper-colored Bulldog, hinting at the electric powertrain underneath.

The LR Electric will be assembled in Macungie, Pennsylvania, where other Mack class-8 trucks are built. The manufacturer should start taking orders for this battery-powered heavy-hauler in the fourth quarter of the year, with production starting in 2021.

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