Mack Trucks go electric with the help of Tesla co-founder

Think about what Tesla does to passenger vehicles. Well, that’s what Wrightspeed does for garbage trucks. Tesla co-founder Ian Wright started the company back in 2003, after launching Tesla, in order to create efficient range-extended electric vehicle powertrains to re-power lighter, quieter and more efficient urban vehicles — like your run-of-the-mill garbage truck.

Now, Mack Trucks is getting in on the energy-efficient action. A new kind of Mack truck can re-charge as it drives and even harness power from simply braking.

Mack Trucks showcased a Mack LR model retrofitted with the Wrightspeed Route1000 powertrain at WasteExpo 2016. (Image via Mack)
Mack Trucks showcased a Mack LR model retrofitted with the Wrightspeed Route1000 powertrain at WasteExpo 2016. (Image via Mack)

Mack Trucks just recently unveiled a Mack LR model retrofitted with the Wrightspeed Route 1000 powertrain at WasteExpo 2016 in Las Vegas, making it the first OEM to evaluate Wrightspeed technology within a Class 8 refuse vehicle.

The Wrightspeed Route electric vehicle powertrain to help reduce fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance costs.

“Mack is the refuse industry leader because we’re constantly seeking to pioneer new ideas and innovations,” said Dennis Slagle, president of Mack Trucks. “It’s something we’ve done throughout our 116-year history, and it’s something we will continue to do. Wrightspeed shares this pioneering spirit, which is why we’re eager to evaluate their Route powertrain technology.”

The Wrightspeed Route powertrain uses electricity to deliver 100% of the vehicle’s propulsion. The system is equipped with a plug-in  battery pack that enables a purely electric range of up to 24 miles. When the batteries’ charge is depleted it runs an 80 kW, fuel agnostic Fulcrum Turbine Generator, which can operate on natural gas or diesel fuel, recharges the batteries, and enables the vehicles to have unlimited range with refueling.

Even more recharging comes from the Route’s 730 kW regenerative braking system, which generates electricity as the vehicle comes to a stop. Regenerative braking helps the vehicles cut down on maintenance costs since it decreases braking force and the resulting brake wear.

Electricity from the battery pack powers four Geared Traction Drive (GTD) electric motors that can power vehicles up to 66,000 pounds on grades as steep as 40%.

“At Wrightspeed, we’re focused on designing the best-performing powertrains for forward-looking OEMs and fleet operators,” said Ian Wright, CEO and founder of Wrightspeed. “Mack represents one of the most innovative manufacturers in the refuse industry, and we’re proud to showcase our technology alongside their Mack LR model. We thank them for recognizing our powertrain as a potential addition in their pursuit of innovation”

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