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LR Electric may launch Mack Trucks’ electromobility future

The Mack LR Electric is the first all-electric vehicle from the manufacturer. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

While many of its competitors have been jumping into the electric vehicle fray, Mack Trucks has taken a slower approach. Company officials have repeatedly said the company would move into electric when the time was right, and it isn’t like Mack is falling behind. Thanks to the technological advancements of its parent company, the Volvo Group, Mack is able to benefit from those investments as it blazes its own path forward.

But, Mack’s electric time has come, and its entry may mark just the beginning of an electromobility future. When Mack formally introduced its LR Electric refuse model on Thursday, attendees from the media and the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which will test the truck in real-world operation beginning in the second quarter of this year, got a glimpse of what may ultimately become the first step in Mack’s electric journey.

NYC Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Rocky DiRico steps out of Mack LR Electric refuse truck
New York City Department of Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Rocky DiRico exits the Mack LR Electric refuse truck following a test drive around Mack’s test track in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Jan. 9, 2020. DiRico said he was impressed by the vehicle’s performance. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

Why was refuse the first application, though?

“It’s a closed loop application; it has predetermined routes; and it has range [limitability],” said Roy Horton, director of product strategy for Mack Trucks. “It’s home every night, so for a battery-electric vehicle that needs charging, it’s a perfect [application].”

The LR Electric features two AC motors with 496 peak horsepower producing 4,051 pounds-foot of torque with a two-speed transmission. It is equipped with a 20,000-pound Mack FXL20 front axle and two Mack S522R 52,000-pound rear axles. Gross vehicle weight is 72,000 pounds.

Powering the vehicle are four lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries and a charging system that features up to 150 kW charging power at 200 amps maximum current.

Mack Trucks' copper Bulldog
Mack Trucks is known for its Bulldog mascot. The company has decided that it will utilize a copper Bulldog for all its electric vehicles, such as the one that adorns the Mack LR Electric refuse truck going to the New York City’s Sanitation Department. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

A regenerative braking system that features auto, low and high options gives operators the ability to manage how much energy is captured during braking.

All accessories are electrically driven, including the 25-yard DuraPack 5000 rear loader.

Horton noted that it produces zero emissions and little noise, and will lead to reduced operating costs from fewer components, less wear and tear on brakes, and the use of less oil and lubricants to keep mechanical engines operating.

While no future product plans were mentioned, Horton told FreightWaves the LR Electric “will help establish electromobility for Mack Trucks.”

Mack LR Electric refuse truck charging plug view
The charging plug for the Mack LR Electric refuse truck is located just behind the driver’s door below the battery packs. The vehicle can be fully charged in just a few hours. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

“This is a good start and I believe this is the right application for it,” said Jonathan Randall, senior vice president of North American sales and marketing for Mack Trucks. “Our position is, there is viability for electric in the industry and it makes sense in inner city, in urban delivery. Others are looking at over the road, and if that is viable, we can [adapt the system to that]. If it can haul 80,000 pounds of trash, it can move 80,000 pounds of goods down the highway.”

The electric system borrows from the Volvo Group’s work on electric buses in Europe, but it is not a “plug-and-play” system, Horton said.

Mack LR Electric refuse truck
The Mack LR Electric refuse truck incorporates the same cab design and basic overall length as the LR diesel model, and coming down the street, there is no difference between the two, except engine noise is non-existent. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

“There’s still a lot of research and development work to make this suitable for [U.S. applications],” he said. “Whatever comes next, that’s another R&D effort.”

Pairing with New York City on the trial, though, is crucial. The city, Rocky DiRico, deputy commissioner of DSNY, explained, features as many different conditions in one place as possible — everything from tight, congested city streets to temperature extremes that will occur during the test period, giving Mack a true barometer to measure the vehicle’s performance.

“If it works with DSNY, it will work with others,” Horton said.

Mack LR Electric transmission
The Mack LR Electric refuse truck has a special electric transmission, seen here. All the power on the vehicle, including the packer body and other accessories, is generated by electricity. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

Randall said there has been a lot of interest from refuse fleets looking to test the LR Electric. A second vehicle will go into testing later this year in North Carolina with Republic Services.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].