Nikola has developed a battery-electric refuse collection truck for Republic Services.
Story by Team CV
There is no doubt that electrification in CVs –trucks, buses, vans, etc., would happen in those that do urban duties first and foremost. Others will follow at a distance. As CV makers work towards realising this, many new entrants are trying their hand at building CVs using electrical and electronics sans any legacy. One such company is Nikola. It has been trying its hand at building electric and hydrogen powered CVs for a little while now — a year or two perhaps, and has come to develop a refuse collection electric truck for Arizona-based Republic Services. Scheduled to go into service with Republic by 2023, the refuse collection e-truck is a zero-emission machine and designed to be built in good quantities.
To provide as many as 5,000 trucks to Republic, the refuse collection e-truck employs Nikola’s Tre electric drivetrain. With no less than 2500 e-refuse collection trucks to be delivered by 2023, the vehicle prototypes are being tested at present and paint a promising image of how a typical truck of this type would be in the future. Sharing the powertrain, chassis and electronic axle with the battery-electric semi-truck Nikola Tre, the e-refuse collection truck, according to Trevor Milton, Founder and Executive Chairman, Nikola, is working to ship prototypes for on-road testing to Republic by 2021 end.“We are specialised in heavy-duty, zero-emission Class 8 trucks and the refuse market is one of the most stable markets which provides long-term shareholder value”, he added

To be built in a factory under construction in Coolidge, Arizona, US, the e-refuse collection truck will be offered with a cab and body. Unlike the current trend where the superstructure is built by firms specialising in the same and independent of the OEMs, the Nikola e-refuse collection truck will be ‘factory-ready’ to resume duty with Republic. In-line with the forecast that such e-vehicles would accelerate earlier than anticipated in terms of acceptance, Nikola is confident that they would be successful in pushing their electric CVs in markets like Arizona and California earlier than they can convince the rest of the states in the US to adopt them and enjoy their lower operating costs. The two states, Arizona and California, are said to be one of front runners in terms of demand for electric-powered vehicles.
Made available in a ‘ready to resume duty’ form, the e-refuse collection truck, according to Mark Russell, CEO, Nikola, will set a precedent. “The Refuse truck customers prefer chassis from truck OEMs and bodies from other suppliers but Nikola is providing fully integrated chassis and body with a single factory warranty,” he averred. Provided directly to Republic Services from the Nikola factory, the price of the e-truck is claimed to be USD 500,000. Due to batteries inside it, the e-truck will weigh more than a normal garbage truck. Laced with regenerative braking technology and air disc brakes, which act hundreds of times faster than advanced air-only disc brakes, the e-refuse collection truck is a carry up to 720kWh of energy storage. It will offer a range of up to 150 miles (241 kms), picking up garbage of up to 1,200 cans on a single charge with quieter and emission-free operation.


Lower operational costs
To help facilitate reduction in operational costs to a good extent, the e-refuse collection truck is claimed to be a clever piece of engineering by Russell. He said that his company could take the cost down for both programs by using the same parts. With Republic Services having participated in the design process of the truck, the vehicle would be offered with both automated side loaders and front-end loaders. The powertrain software will be limited to 1,000 hp. Set to give e-refuse collection trucks a new image through this new platform, Nikola, working with Republic, is confident of carving out a niche for itself in the respective market segment. The e-CV maker is betting big on the ability of its e-truck platform to outperform existing diesel and gas trucks by providing nearly three-times the horsepower.

The higher horsepower developed by the e-refuse collection truck would aid it to tackle hilly terrains as well as other diverse terrains with consummate ease and without consuming higher fossil fuel as an equivalent diesel truck would, and with no tailpipe emissions to be worried about. Another advantage that the e-refuse collection truck from Nikola would possess is the ability to carry more or do full loads without any worry about performance. According to Milton, the prototypes are showing good promise. Once production begins, the e-truck would be subjected to further, more rigorous tests. These would include tests for lifecycle in different climates. Mentioned Milton that very soon they would be displaying their first pickup truck named the Nikola Badger. This truck is currently available for pre-order and will be provided in two variants, one with the battery and a range of up to 300 miles (482 km), and the second with a fuel cell system and a range of up to 600 miles (965 km).

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