Garbage Goes Electric in Chicago 0

A handful of garbage trucks in Chicago will be a whole lot quieter than their predecessors, thanks to an all-electric powertrain control system (ePCS) from Motiv Power Systems.

The Bay Area startup won a contract for $13.4 million, it’s largest customer contract to-date, to provide the city of Chicago with 20 electric refuse trucks using a traditional chassis outfitted with Motiv’s ePCS system.

“We don’t design a truck chassis to be electric,” said Jim Castelaz, CEO of Motiv. “Instead we work with a whole industry of vehicle modifiers.” By having a plug-and-play technology that works with established truck frames, such as Detroit Chassis, Motiv says it can deliver the benefits of electric at lower costs.

The refuse trucks will each sport 10, 125-kilowatt-hour battery packs which will provide at least 60 miles of range. Garbage routes are an ideal fit for an electric truck, as long as the collection station or dump is not too far. “We look for fleets that run vehicles that get a low mpg so they’re using a lot of diesel and go in predictable routes,” said Castelaz.

Motiv’s technology is essentially its controllers that optimize the power flow between the chassis and the batteries. The software also offers predictive maintenance, which can provide added value. The vehicles also come with an in-house charger, a 60-kilowatt, three-phase charger that can operate from about 208 to 600 volts. For the garbage trucks, they will take about three hours to charge, said Castelaz. Motiv estimates the cost of fuel for the trucks will be about one-eighth of diesel.

The first of the 20 garbage trucks is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2013, but in the meantime Motiv is also working on expanding into other types of trucks, including a flatbed for the city of Bakersfield, Calif. and it is also investigating solutions for utility trucks and refrigerated delivery trucks. “We want to have our technology in a variety of chassis by the end of 2013,” said Castelaz.

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