The people over at Wrightspeed Powertrains of San Jose, California are experts on electric engines. Ian Wright, the leader of the company, was one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors. The new engine he has developed for garbage and delivery trucks is a game changer.

The next target for Wrightspeed is garbage trucks, which typically can make 1,000 hard stops per day, consume upwards of 14,000 gallons of fuel per year and weigh 10 to 15 times as much as a Tesla Model S sedan. Since electric powertrains have maximum advantage over traditional ones at low speeds that require a lot of torque, garbage trucks that crawl from stop to stop are an ideal platform for electrification. There’s one nice side benefit for the people whose garbage is being picked up: Electric motors are much quieter than the big diesel engines that power most garbage trucks now, which should dull the roar when the garbage collectors come by. (That won’t help, however, with the clamor of cans and bottles being hurled into the metal compactor compartment.)


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Wrightspeed builds these powertrains as retrofits for exisiting trucks and the benefits are immense.  Here is a short list:

  • direct traction control at drivewheels
  • constant horsepower for heavy torque demand
  • slip limiting technology
  • replacing traditional powertrains with the simple Wrightspeed Route limits unit down time and greatly reduces overall maintenance costs.
  • emissions that eclipse the strictest of air quality mandates
  • microturbine generator is very clean, efficient, and quiet
  • strong regenerative braking that can completely stop a truck on an incline and delivers 730kw of power back to the batteries
  • 300% improvement of 12 mpg to 44 mpg for an average delivery truck


Wrightspeed, which has 25 employees and is privately owned, has a contract to retrofit 17 garbage trucks in the San Francisco area with its electric motors. And Wright predicts rapid adoption of the technology after that. Within 10 years, he says, half of all garbage trucks in the U.S. will be powered by battery-electric systems.

These engines also improve the quality of life for the driver by providing a quieter, cleaner, and less stressful experience.  Rick Newman of Yahoo Finance takes a closer look at these pioneers complete with video Read more…


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