Four factors to consider when adding electric to your fleet

(Tyler Ohlmansiek is E-Mobility sales director for Mack Trucks)

The topic of electrification has been mainly seen through the lens of passenger vehicle development in recent years. But now battery-electric heavy- and medium-duty vehicles are actively being sold in North America.

The rapid developments in commercial EVs happened through collaboration between OEMs and end customers who have made business and social commitments to transition to more sustainable fleets. And within the waste and recycling industry, there is even more impetus to adopt EVs: after all, this is the industry helping clean up and maintain our planet.

In recent years, Mack Trucks has introduced two battery EV (BEV) truck models: the LR Electric for waste and recycling operations, and the medium-duty MD Electric. Both trucks are in customer hands today. They mark the start of a monumental shift in the industry, one that has been achieved through close collaboration among OEMs, battery makers, charging partners and end customers to determine the best paths forward.

As waste and recycling operations, and other applications, look to sustainable vehicle solutions, there are four key factors that should be considered when deciding whether to electrify their fleets.


To begin, customers need to decide if a BEV makes sense for their operations. The waste and recycling industry has been an excellent testbed for BEVs due its closed-loop application, meaning the refuse vehicle returns to its home base each day. This allows the customer to charge the vehicle onsite or at a nearby location, as opposed to on-highway vehicles that don’t return home each day and would need charging locations on the way to and from the destination.

The customer also must consider the daily route for each vehicle, including stops per day and how this affects the truck's range and the duration of its charge. Mack dedicates considerable resources to determine the feasibility of BEVs based on specific data gathered from each customer’s routes before any purchase. This clarifies if a BEV is the correct choice for a specific fleet or operation. Fleets should work with an OEM that offers both internal combustion engines and BEVs for their application, as this will allow them to assist with the transition between power sources.

This was the approach Mack Trucks used with Coastal Waste & Recycling in southeast Florida. In February, Coastal took ownership of their first battery-electric refuse vehicle, the Mack LR Electric model, after an in-depth assessment of their current operations and long-term sustainability goals.

Infrastructure Implications

Once a decision is made to move forward with the purchase of an electric vehicle, OEMs need to consider how the vehicle will be charged. Several options exist, including installing the charger onsite at the customer location. OEMs should have dedicated, qualified specialists who can support the customer with not only this decision, but the implementation of their infrastructure upgrades.

Mack currently works with charging partners to help provide customers access to on-hand inventory, hardware installation services and support resources focused on charger uptime. Customers should consider the support they will receive from their OEM and dealer network, as that support can ease the transition and adoption to electrification. Identifying which desired power works best for the customer’s fleet duty cycle and dwell times is also something to be considered. Infrastructure is an investment, so making sure all options are scrutinized is critical to the successful adoption of the technology.

Just as there are now different trucks to help a fleet reduce emissions, there are multiple options with which to charge them. Overnight grid charging is a reliable option, but there are also DC fast chargers, solar-powered portable chargers, towable power banks and more — with others being developed almost every day.

Financing Options and Managing Expenses

The upfront cost of a battery-electric vehicle is higher than diesel-powered trucks as the technology is so new. For many, this could be a barrier to adoption, even if they desire to own them. However, the long-term benefits of owning an electric vehicle are evident when reduced operational costs and total cost of ownership are studied.

It’s not enough just to provide the vehicle. OEMs need to offer a holistic approach to meet the needs of customers. Customers should question their dealers about what types of financing the OEM provides. Grants and funding are available in several states, and Mack can help the customer identify which ones they qualify for. The OEM and dealer should also be able to help qualifying customers through the process of applying for them.

Some OEMs also offer flexible financing and leasing options. Customers should talk to their dealer to ensure they have all the information to make the most informed decision to help improve their total cost of ownership.

Customers also can seek help in better managing expenses through all-inclusive plans, such as Mack Financial Service's ElectriFi Subscription, that may include items such as the chassis, the body, taxes and a vehicle protection plan. The protection plan should offer coverage of scheduled maintenance, preventive maintenance, towing and repair, battery monitoring and uptime support.


Testing electric heavy equipment directly in the applications where diesel equivalents are already working will provide the clearest, most actionable feedback for the customer and the OEM. Most OEMs are open to end-user pilots, which can be an easy way to become familiar with electrification without a substantial initial investment. There is an added layer of comfort knowing the OEM is providing wraparound support for training, charging and uptime.

Companies willing to try these new electric trucks will not only help the industry advance, but they will also see the potential impact the transition can have on their emissions and their bottom lines.

While the transition may still feel a little intimidating or complicated, it’s full of promise and possibility. Partnering with manufacturers and innovators to achieve sustainability in the waste and recycling industry is an exciting opportunity worth pursuing.

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