“We set out to create a zero-emissions alternative to our market-leading, diesel-powered refuse collection vehicles,” explained Group Engineering Director Keith Day.
“But one of the key principles in the eCollect design was to change as little as possible from our conventionally fuelled RCVs. They are hugely popular and the most widely used RCVs in the UK. As such, they provide the ideal template for an electrically powered vehicle.
“They are very familiar to drivers, crews, repair and maintenance teams, fleet managers and everyone associated with our customers’ waste and recycling operations. So changing as little as possible makes it both easier for us to introduce them and easier for customers to maintain and improve the efficiency of their operations.”
Consequently, the eCollect design will be instantly recognisable. The body is a 19m3 Olympus Narrow fitted with a Terberg automatic split bin-lift.
Even the chassis will be familiar; it’s a 6x2 Elite Narrow rear-steer from which the diesel-powered drive system has been removed and replaced by an electric-powered one.
Genuine alternative to diesel RCVs
“It was also clear from the start of the project that the new vehicle needed to be a genuine alternative to diesel for operators: that is, one with comparable performance and lifetime costs to our best-selling, 26-tonne RCV. That is what we set out to develop and we have done,” added Keith.
The narrow versions of the Elite chassis and Olympus body help provide the best balance between payload efficiency and manoeuvrability and were chosen with the operational role of the vehicle firmly in mind.
“Our first all-electric eRCV is designed to work in urban environments which our narrow vehicles are already designed to do, their smaller footprint helping speed and efficiency when collecting from locations with restricted access,” said Keith.
No diesel creates design benefits
The main difference, however, is the switch from a diesel-based system to a more clean and efficient electric one.
The removal of the diesel engine with its gearing, drive and exhaust systems and the fuel and AdBlue tanks created space and significantly reduced the vehicle’s weight, some of which was replaced with the addition of battery packs and the electric drivetrain.
However, the weight distribution of the whole vehicle has had to be carefully reassessed and the battery packs positioned to optimise the efficiency of the RCV – both unladen and with a full payload.
Safety is paramount
And this has been followed up with an extremely thorough testing regime as part of the homologation process to ensure the vehicle is totally safe and efficient.
“Of course, there are other very important design principles embedded in the development of the eCollect, such as ensuring that only low voltage electrical systems are used in the cab,” said Keith.
“Safety is, as ever, paramount and we’ve developed numerous processes involving the production, operation, training, repair and maintenance of the vehicle which address that and which we’ll soon be unveiling.
“But what we have designed is a full-sized eRCV that produces zero-emissions and is totally fit for purpose. The benefits of using such a vehicle in our towns and cities not only addresses the issue of climate change but also that of air quality where it is most acutely needed – in urban environments.
“And by greatly reducing the noise generated in waste and recycling operations, the eCollect is also eminently suitable for collections in places where we really want to minimise disturbance.
“Altogether, it’s a very accomplished piece of engineering which we’re very proud of and which I’m sure will impress our customers when they come to consider it for their frontline operations.”