Autocar debuts fuel-efficient hybrid waste truck
by David J. Fournier, Jr.
this: a refuse truck that accelerates faster than most diesels
on the market, stops without mechanical brakes, has no traditional
transmission to repair, and is 30-50% more fuel efficient than
the average truck. Sound too good to be true? It is, but not for
much longer. On April 5th, at Waste Expo, Autocar unveiled its
brand new E³ hybrid drive waste truck. Still undergoing testing,
the E³ will not be available until sometime around Waste
Expo 2007. However, the promise shown by the Alpha and Beta test
trucks already has people vying to be first on the growing list
of those who have to have them.
The E³ incorporates the RunWise drive system
developed through a partnership with Parker Hannifin. The DriveWise
system is a hydraulic hybrid system that has no traditional transmission
and instead uses a series of hydraulic pumps to accelerate and
stop the truck. Jo Theart, group project leader, revealed that
the E³ is run by hydraulic pumps, a primary pump connected
to the engine that generates fluid pressure which feeds secondary
pumps connected to the rear axle to drive the wheels. When the
truck is moving under a certain speed, this hydraulic pressure
can be used to bring the truck to a stop without using the mechanical
brakes, greatly reducing brake wear and tear. That same pressure
can then be captured and re-used to help accelerate the truck
to its next stop faster than most trucks on the market today.
In fact, the E³ realizes an average of approximately 26%
acceleration improvement over similar diesel trucks. At 600-800
stops a day, which is the average route, stopping without brakes
and moving fast enough to shave a second or two off of each stop
adds up to big time and money savings.
Neat tricks aside, this hybrid does one other
thing well. It saves on fuel costs. The hydraulic system contributes
to an average fuel economy improvement of 30-50% over standard
diesel refuse trucks. Of course, the fuel savings depends on the
application. According to Tom Vatter, vice president of sales
and marketing, “Fuel savings is route specific. The more
stop and go the route, the more efficient the E³ becomes.”
In the past, hydraulic hybrids lost any stop and go benefit once
they hit 40 mph at which the systems could not run efficiently.
However, at 40 mph and above, the E³ bypasses its hydraulic
system and becomes a regular diesel truck, avoiding wasting the
benefits gained in the stop and go portion of the route. All of
this means that the E³ has much lower emissions and will
pass the most rigid environmental regulations.
However, all of this special equipment will
of course require special maintenance and come with a special
price tag. There is no specific price yet, but according to Tom,
the E³ will cost significantly more than a traditional diesel
truck. Tom also says that despite the additional cost, the E³
will still have a quicker than average return on investment. He
estimates that the E³ will pay for itself in 2 to 3 years.
Considering that the truck is built to run for 8 to 10 years,
that’s quite a few years of profit left over. The maintenance
aspect of the truck will also be different. Autocar will have
a scheduled maintenance program, but should something break, it
may be hard to find a quick fix for the E³.