What city-dweller hasn’t been woken up by a garbage truck or scrunched their nose when an especially smelly bus passes by on the street?
The engineers at Wrightspeed want to put an end to loud and inefficient garbage trucks, delivery trucks, city buses, and other large, diesel-dependent vehicles forever.
Wrightspeed’s promotional video explains its solution to the problem of gas-guzzling city is its Powertrain, a replacement for diesel engines in heavy-duty trucks and buses. This Powertrain relies on electric motors powered by a battery system. When the driver hits the brakes, the motors recharge and when batteries start to run low, an onboard turbine generator recharges them. The result is energy efficiency and low-end torque.
Wrightspeed’s website claims that compared to traditional diesel vehicles, its Powertrains use up to 67% less fuel consumption, produce up 63% less emissions, and result in up to $25,000 in annual maintenance savings.
The trade publication Heavy Duty Trucking goes into more specifics about how the technology works in the Wrightspeed Route truck specifically (that’s the truck now used to deliver FedEx packages):
The Powertrain turbine engine makes about 325 hp and can burn different types of fuel—including diesel and natural gas. As a series hybrid, the turbine doesn’t propel the truck directly. Instead, it turns a generator in order to produce electricity that’s then sent to lithium ion batteries. Those batteries store up to 78 kilowatt-hours and power dual electric motors that drive through 4-speed gearboxes. The gearboxes replace the differentials on the rear tandem axels.
Heavy Duty Trucking states that each retrofit costs about $200,000. That’s $150,000 more than a natural-gas conversion but $300,000 less than, say, a new diesel chassis equipped with a Canadian-made Labrie automated-sidearm packer body.
If you want to hear an impassioned speech about this technology, there’s a TEDxChristchurch talk about Wrightspeed Powertrains. It’s called “How Jet-Powered Garbage Trucks Can Save the World.” The speaker is none other than Ian Wright, founder of Wrightspeed, co-founder of Tesla Motors, and creator of the X1, the world’s fastest street-legal electric vehicle.
Watch the talk here:
Want in? Apparently Wrightspeed has a few job openings: