Mack unveils first turbine hybrid refuse truck

Updated Jun 8, 2016
A Mack LR retrofitted with a Wrightspeed Route electric powertrain.A Mack LR retrofitted with a Wrightspeed Route electric powertrain.

WasteExpo 2016 proved historic Tuesday as Mack Trucks revealed the first Class 8 refuse truck with Wrightspeed’s turbine supported, range-extended electric powertrain.

A Mack LR that was retrofitted with the Wrightspeed Route 1000 was on display at the truck manufacturer’s booth inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. Mack is the first OEM that will be testing the alternative driveline.

“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 percent of the vehicle’s propulsion. The system features an advanced plug-in-capable battery pack that enables a purely electric range of up to 24 miles. When the batteries’ charge is depleted, an 80 kW, fuel agnostic Fulcrum Turbine Generator, which can operate on natural gas or diesel fuel, recharges the batteries, enabling Route-equipped vehicles to have unlimited range with refueling.

Additional recharging comes from the Route’s 730 kW regenerative braking system, which generates electricity as the vehicle comes to a stop. Regenerative braking helps Route-equipped vehicles to cut down on maintenance costs, as braking force – and subsequent brake wear – is significantly decreased.

Electricity from the battery pack powers four Geared Traction Drive (GTD) electric motors, enabling the Route powertrain to power vehicles up to 66,000 pounds on grades as steep as 40 percent. With full torque available from zero rpm, the Route provides a driving experience comparable to diesel-powered trucks.

“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.”

Wright, who co-founded Tesla Motors and left the company in 2005, said in an Associated Press story last June that Wrightspeed would be setting its sights on electrifying medium and heavy duty trucks.

The Mack LR model equipped with the Wrightspeed Route powertrain will be on display in Mack booth no. 1327 throughout WasteExpo 2016, which runs June 7-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.