Waste haulers have been experimenting with various types of alternative-fuel vehicles for years. As a recent article in Transport Dive reports, major public companies including Waste Management, Waste Connections and Republic Services, as well as private haulers such as Recology, and some municipally run fleets, have tested various types of EVs, as well as other options, such as CNG. However, the new year has brought a new wave of deals to electrify refuse trucks, encouraged by the Biden administration’s enthusiasm for EVs, along with the boom in EV-makers going public.
“We are seeing this acceleration in piloting activity. We are seeing a proliferation of competitive offerings, and partnerships between incumbents and established companies, between startups and other startups—a very rich constellation,” Noah Kaye, a Senior Research Analyst at Oppenheimer & Co, told Transport Dive. “Ultimately, this is all positive for adoption trends in the industry, because the more and more solutions there are, certainly the more investment that’s brought to bear, lowering the costs, the quicker the adoption curve will be for the industry.”
One of the companies taking advantage of the SPAC trend is battery-maker Romeo Power, which counts Republic Services COO Tim Stuart among its board members. The two companies recently announced a strategic alliance under which two Republic refuse collection vehicles will be retrofitted with electric motors and Romeo battery packs. The companies will explore more applications for Romeo’s technology in Republic’s fleet of 16,000 vehicles.
In December, Republic ended a partnership with Nikola Motor, canceling a potential order for up to 5,000 electric collection vehicles. Republic cited unexpected costs and longer-than-anticipated development time as the reason for the split.
Romeo also recently signed a $234-million, five-year production contract with Lion Electric, as well as a deal with Heritage Environmental Services, which plans to purchase 500 battery-electric vehicles.
“Our fleet manager partners, Heritage and Republic, they realize that the key differentiating factor to electrification is the battery. And that’s why they partner directly with us,” said Romeo CEO Lionel Selwood Jr.
XL Fleet, another newly-public fleet electrification specialist, has partnered with Iowa-based refuse truck OEM Curbtender to develop battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric commercial trucks for use in waste management.
XL Fleet believes that the $7-billion refuse truck segment is just now achieving the right balance of factors such as power, weight, range and cost. “There are some very demanding aspects of refuse collection—combine that with how high the costs of the systems have been and that’s really what’s been limiting adoption,” said XL Fleet CEO Dimitri Kazarinoff, adding that there is now “a lot of pent-up demand.”
Curbtender CEO Kevin Watje also sees a lot of potential in the market. “Our customer base has been very eager [for] electric trucks. We could have sold perhaps hundreds of trucks already had we just had an electric vehicle that would integrate properly and work for our body.”
Source: Transport Dive