Those trucks that pick up your garbage are among the dirtiest, noisiest vehicles, belching emissions and getting maybe 3 miles a gallon, but that's starting to change in Chicago.
Chicago is the first city to sign a contract to buy electric garbage trucks - residents will no longer hear their garbage (and hopefully recyclables too) being picked up because the trucks are so quiet. The city was recently lauded for its sustainable urban design.
Chicago signed a 5-year, $13.4 million contract with Motiv Power Systems, a start-up based in the San Francisco area, to buy 20 electric garbage trucks (it has a fleet of 600).
Motiv's technology is the first in the trucking market to use off-the-shelf batteries and motors that can be mixed and matched to fit the exact size of the electric truck needed.
That design approach cuts operating costs 50% over eight years, Motiv says, pointing to its medium-duty truck, which costs $0.10 a mile to run.
Chicago's garbage trucks will have 10 battery packs and an electric motor that drives the hydraulics system. They weigh 52,000 lbs and have a range of more than 60 miles.
Founded in 2009, Motiv has been validating its electric powertrain using an electric bus under a grant from the California Energy Commission. The 20-passenger bus has a range of more than 120 miles using five battery packs.
"Scaling up from the medium-duty pilot bus to the Class 8 garbage truck is really just a matter of switching out components and re-packaging it onto the new chassis," says Jim Castelaz, CEO of Motiv. "We've designed the whole system to be compatible with any off-the-shelf motors and batteries, which are brought to a uniform operating standard by our software. If Chicago ever wants newer batteries, the old ones can be easily swapped out."
Motiv's powertrain is assembled on conventional chassis infrastructure. Detroit Chassis will install the powertrain on a standard garbage truck chassis in a standard truck body provided by Loadmaster.
Smith Electric Vehicles is the biggest maker of commercial electric vehicles, including an electric school bus and electric trucks serving Frito-Lay and Duane Reade retail stores.