All-electric garbage truck hits the road in Chicago (with related video)

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All-electric garbage truck hits the road in Chicago (with related video)

The city of Chicago is now home to an all-electric garbage truck. The unit is the first all-electric model in North America . Designed by Motiv Power Systems , the Electric Refuse Vehicle, or ERV, was made possible using Motiv’s modular, plug-and-play electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) technology. The truck was developed in collaboration with Chicago’s existing refuse truck vendors. Motiv Power Systems
is based in Foster City, Calif.

The city of Chicago is currently running the Motiv ERV on different residential refuse and recycling routes of up to 60 miles. The vehicle saves 2,688 gallons of fuel a year, according to the company. “We are constantly looking to modernize and improve the city’s fleet operations through environmentally conscious choices,” said David Reynolds , commissioner of the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management . “We look forward to examining how this truck can boost efficiency, reduce emissions and save taxpayer dollars in the future.”



Motiv Power Systems won the competitive contract to provide the truck in 2012, against two other companies. The win came in the semi-final round.

The first ERV, delivered earlier this year, is one of an estimated 20 that could be built within the exclusive five-year purchase order. The development and production of the Motiv ERV was enabled through a Department of Energy grant to the city of Chicago .

“While Motiv did not have an ERV in 2012, our ePCS was installed on other truck types, and we leaped at the chance to use the ePCS on a significantly larger truck,” said Motiv founder and CEO Jim Castelaz . “The Motiv ePCS’s flexibility allows it to run on electric trucks as diverse as a Type A school bus to this ERV without costly powertrain redesigns.”

Chicago specified that this ERV must meet the requirements placed on all of its garbage trucks. This included 60-mile range, a payload capacity of nine tons and 1,000 pounds per cubic yard of compaction. These specifications make the ERV capable of use anywhere in Chicago .

To supply enough electricity to move the truck and power the hydraulics all day, the ERV is equipped with 200 kilowatt-hours of energy, in ten battery packs. Full charge time is eight hours using the Motiv Universal Fast Charger. In the photo at right, the ERV is making a pickup in a Chicago neighborhood.

“Besides dramatically lower fuel and maintenance cost, value of the ERV goes beyond strict payback,” said Castelaz.  “Each truck offsets over 55 barrels of petroleum and 23 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Plus, no one wants large, noisy truck engines idling next to their house at 6 a.m. , when they could have clean, and quieter ERV’s keeping the morning peace instead.”

The Chicago ERV was built using a Loadmaster 20-cubic-yard rear loader body — the same model of body used on other city of Chicago refuse trucks.  Cumberland Servicenter furnished the chassis, which was manufactured by Crane Carrier.

“By developing our electric trucks in collaboration with existing diesel truck manufacturers, we build vehicles that are just as tough and capable as the diesel versions these partners build,” said John Knudtson , VP of business development at Motiv. “We are leveraging the expertise of existing truck manufacturers. They can offer electric options of their existing trucks, to their existing customers, and service them with their existing infrastructure.”

The public will be able to ride in the ERV for the first time at the CALSTART High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum or HTUF, Ride and Drive event in Chicago on September 23 .

In the video , an all-electric garbage truck designed by Motiv Power Systems , devours a sofa. The unit is the first all-electric model in North America .

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