UPDATED, May 11, 2018: Three weeks after announcing the launch of its FL Electric model, Volvo has announced a second electric refuse truck model, the FE Electric. The new model is designed for "heavier city distribution and refuse transport operations," and can carry a gross weight of 27 metric tons.
"This opens the door to new forms of cooperation with cities that target to improve air quality, reduce traffic noise, and cut congestion during peak hours since commercial operations can instead be carried out quietly and without tale-pipe exhaust emissions early in the morning or late at night,” said Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks, in a statement.
The first FE Electric truck will being operating in Hamburg, Germany in 2019.
- Volvo Trucks recently announced the launch of its new FL Electric model, the company's first fully electric commercial vehicles, in Europe. The trucks currently have a range of approximately 186 miles.
- The first two FL Electrics are being tested in the Swedish city Gothenburg — where Volvo is based — by waste and recycling service provider Renova and trucking company TGM. Renova has also been working with Volvo to test an autonomous collection vehicle.
- The FL Electrics has a 185 kW motor with the option for two to six lithium-ion batteries and a maximum capacity of 300 kWh. Batteries can be fully charged in one to two hours via DC, or up to 10 hours via AC.
As collection fleet operators look for ways to reduce emissions from diesel and update their technology the prospect of electric has been seen as intriguing, but unproven. While companies such as BYD and Motiv have fully electric collection vehicles on the road in the U.S., their footprint is still relatively limited. Large private or municipal fleets are more likely to go the natural gas route if they're looking to move away from diesel based on cost and range factors.
The industry has shown interest in the early stages of hybrid electric options. Wrightspeed's electric powertrain was installed on multiple collection vehicles now owned by Recology. Waste Management also reported positive results from a hybrid wheel loader test with Volvo last year. Both companies will also be piloting electric vehicles for various uses in Seattle where they were recently awarded new collection contracts.
So far, most of this activity has been concentrated in California, where vehicle emissions standards are more stringent, but the use of hybrid or electric collection vehicles in multiple countries outside the U.S. may be a sign of what's to come domestically. The potential for noise and emissions reduction is appealing. As with any large equipment decision, the main factor now will be how soon costs can become competitive with current options. The fact that Volvo, a partner with many of the industry's large companies, is now bringing a concept to market could accelerate that process.