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Wrightspeed, Ratto Group Launch Electric Refuse Truck

Waste 360  /  November 2, 2016

The Route is the first commercial application of a range-extended electric refuse truck.

Wrightspeed and The Ratto Group unveiled The Route, the first commercial application of a range-extended electric refuse truck, at a press conference in Sonoma County, Calif., yesterday. With The Route and backing of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, communities throughout Sonoma County and neighboring counties will be serviced by a clean and quiet fleet of trucks.

“[The unveiling] is a milestone for Sonoma County in terms of improving local air quality and upholding environmental standards,” said Sonoma County Chairman of the Board Efren Carrillo in a press release. “As a government entity, we have led with innovative programs to reduce greenhouse gases, such as the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, Sonoma Clean Power and Evergreen, a nationally recognized Green Fleet, the Water Agency’s Carbon Free Water program and our Regional Climate Protection Authority. Sonoma County citizens have shown their high interest and support for innovative solutions that benefit our greenhouse gas reduction goals. We applaud Wrightspeed and The Ratto Group for their commitment to innovation and for blazing a path for the future of solid and compostable waste, as well as recycling in Sonoma County and beyond.”

The Route, which has been recognized by the State of California for its ability to help meet progressive climate and air-quality mandates, is designed to deliver economic, environmental and performance benefits in both OEM-installed new vehicles and existing fleet retrofits.

“As an early adopter of our powertrain technology, Lou Ratto has solidified Sonoma County as a leader in pioneering new technologies that will improve and preserve the region for future generations,” said Wrightspeed Founder and CEO Ian Wright in a press release. “We’re proud to collaborate with Lou and his team and to establish our powertrain technology as the economical and environmental choice for cleaner, quieter and more efficient communities.

Currently, Ratto’s fleet of refuse, recycling and compostable yard waste trucks services more than 140,000 customers throughout Sonoma County, Mariposa County, the City of Novato and West Marlin. And to meet community needs, Ratto and Wrightspeed are rolling out more than 15 Route trucks over the next 12 months.

“In a business that puts a premium on reuse, this represents the ultimate in recycling. We’re literally recycling the recycling truck,” said The Ratto Group Chief Operating Officer Lou Ratto in a press release. “By integrating Wrightspeed’s powertrains into our existing commercial fleet, we’re initiating a progressive solid waste and recyclables collection strategy that will maximize the life of our vehicles, cut fuel consumption and emissions and have a positive environmental impact on our service areas.”

Additionally, Wrightspeed was awarded $7 million in grants by the California Energy Commission to further develop technology for broad-based adaption of The Route.

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Wrightspeed, Ratto Group introduce range-extended electric refuse truck

Green Car Congress  /  November 2, 2016

Wrightspeed, the leading manufacturer of range-extended electric vehicle (REV) powertrains for heavy-duty applications, and The Ratto Group, a Santa Rosa, California-based refuse, yard waste and recycling collection and processing company, unveiled the first commercial application of a range-extended electric refuse truck. Ratto and Wrightspeed will roll out 15 Route-equipped trucks—retrofits of trucks in Ratto’s fleet—over the next 12 months to meet community needs.

With the support of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, communities in Sonoma and surrounding counties will be serviced by a fleet of clean, quiet trucks from The Ratto Group, powered by Wrightspeed’s range-extended powertrain, The Route. (Earlier post.) Designed to deliver economic, environmental and performance benefits in both OEM-installed new vehicles and existing fleet retrofits, The Route is a scalable solution that has been recognized by The State of California for its ability to help meet progressive climate and air quality mandates. Wrightspeed was awarded $7 million in grants by the California Energy Commission to further develop the technology for broad-based adoption.

In a business that puts a premium on re-use, this represents the ultimate in recycling. We’re literally recycling the recycling truck. By integrating Wrightspeed’s powertrains into our existing commercial fleet, we’re initiating a progressive solid waste and recyclables collection strategy that will maximize the life of our vehicles, cut fuel consumption and emissions, and have a positive environmental impact on our service areas.

—Lou Ratto, Ratto Group COO

The Wrightspeed Route is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle (REV) powertrain designed for original or retrofit applications that can be customized to fit a variety of heavy-duty platforms, replacing the engine, the transmission and the differential systems. The Route electric powertrain drives more low-end torque to the wheels than conventional diesel engines, with less fuel, less emissions, and less noise. The on-board microturbine generator, the Fulcrum, is fuel-agnostic.

The Wrightspeed range-extended electric powertrain is optimized for heavy-duty frequent-stop drive cycles. Wrightspeed designed its own motor, motor controller, clutchless transmission, and vehicle dynamics software (the Wrightspeed GTD drive system), as well as the Fulcrum.

The Wrightspeed GTD features a four-speed clutchless gearbox using software controls in place of heavy and complex traditional transmission components, saving on weight while delivering an exceptional range of power and speed.

In June, at WasteExpo2016, Mack Trucks showcased one of its LR model refuse trucks fitted with a Route 1000 powertrain. Capable of powering vehicles weighing up to 66,000 pounds up grades as steep as 40%, the Route provides the refuse market with the power-to-weight ratio needed for collection duty cycles. (Earlier post.)

Outfitted with 730 kW regenerative braking power, as well as an 80 kW Fulcrum, the powertrain kit gives the vehicles unlimited range with refueling. The company’s patented Geared Traction Drive (GTD) digitally drives each rear wheel of the vehicle, providing the slip control needed to operate in tough road conditions.

The Ratto Group’s fleet of refuse, recycling and compostable yard waste trucks services over 140,000 customers in Sonoma County, Mariposa County, the City of Novato, and West Marin.

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Turbine-Electric Hybrid Trash Truck Deployed

Heavy Duty Trucking  /  November 2, 2016

The Ratto Group, a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based refuse, yard waste and recycling collection and processing company, has announced it is deploying a turbine-electric hybrid refuse truck, the first of a fleet to be supplied by Wrightspeed Powertrains.

Existing vehicles are being equipped with Wrightspeed’s Route heavy-duty powertrain, which consists of a turbine engine, generator, battery pack and electronic controls. Ratto's plans to retrofit Freightliner Condor trash-collection trucks were first described last year in a TruckingInfo.com story.  

"In a business that puts a premium on re-use, this represents the ultimate in recycling,” said Lou Ratto, CEO of The Ratto Group. “We're literally recycling the recycling truck. By integrating Wrightspeed's powertrains into our existing commercial fleet, we're initiating a progressive solid waste and recyclables collection strategy that will maximize the life of our vehicles, cut fuel consumption and emissions, and have a positive environmental impact on our service areas."

"As an early adopter of our powertrain technology, Lou Ratto has solidified Sonoma County as a leader in pioneering new technologies that will improve and preserve the region for future generations," said Ian Wright, founder and CEO of Wrightspeed. "We're proud to collaborate with Lou and his team and to establish our powertrain technology as the economical and environmental choice for cleaner, quieter and more efficient communities."

After the Nov. 2 unveiling, Ratto and Wrightspeed will roll out more than 15 Route-equipped trucks over the next 12 months.

Designed to deliver economic, environmental and performance benefits in both OEM-installed new vehicles and existing fleet retrofits, the Route has been recognized by the State of California for its ability to help meet progressive climate and air quality mandates, Wright said. Wrightspeed was awarded $7 million in grants by the California Energy Commission to further develop the technology for broad-based adoption.

After comments from Ratto, Wright, and Sonoma County Board Chairman Efren Carrillo, attendees watched the county's elected officials drive and ride in the first Wrightspeed-retrofitted Freightliner Condor.

"Today is a milestone for Sonoma County in terms of improving local air quality and upholding environmental standards," said Carrillo. "As a government entity, we have led with innovative programs to reduce greenhouse gases."

The Ratto Group said its fleet of refuse, recycling and compostable yard waste trucks services over 140,000 customers in Sonoma County, Mariposa County, the City of Novato, and West Marin. 

Ratto is a group of companies employing more than 300 people. It is owned by the James Ratto family, which resides in Santa Rosa. James Ratto, founder, worked his way up in the refuse business beginning as a garbage loader in San Francisco during his teen years after immigrating from Italy.

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Here we were all expecting the first Wrightspeed electric refuse chassis to be a Volvo-Mack LR, and it turns out to be a Condor. Mack had announced that it was going to be the "first" to evaluate Wrightspeed's new technology (http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/45567-waste-concept-mack-tests-out-wrightspeed-electric-powertrain/#comment-335858).

But it turns out to be a Freightliner/American LaFrance (ALF) “Condor”. Ironic, given the Mack announcement and the Condor being out of production (ALF closed its doors in 2014).

(New Freightliner/ALF Condor cab still available........ http://www.trucksite.com/inventory/638-complete-freightliner-sterling-american-lafrance-condor-cab.html)

 

Related reading:

http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/38533-tesla-co-founder-electrified-about-garbage-trucks/#comment-275237

http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/39936-wrightspeed-unveils-new-turbine-range-extender-for-medium-and-heavy-duty-electric-powertrains-30-more-efficient-than-current-microturbine-generator/#comment-289053

 

Ian Wright is a brilliant (and humorous) engineer.

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Range-extended electric Wrightspeed refuse truck enters service

Fleet Owner  /  November 9, 2016

The first refuse truck featuring a Wrightspeed range-extended electric powertrain has entered municipal service with the Ratto Group, a Santa Rosa, CA-based refuse, yard waste and recycling collection and processing company.

Designed to deliver economic, environmental and performance benefits in both OEM-installed new vehicles and existing fleet retrofits, Wrightspeed’s The Route is a scalable solution that has been recognized by The State of California for its ability to help meet progressive climate and air quality mandates, the company said.

The Ratto Group's fleet of refuse, recycling and compostable yard waste trucks services over 140,000 customers in Sonoma County, Mariposa County, the City of Novato, and West Marin. Ratto and Wrightspeed plan to deploy more than 15 Route-equipped trucks over the next 12 months to meet community needs.

"In a business that puts a premium on re-use, this represents the ultimate in recycling. We're literally recycling the recycling truck," said Lou Ratto, COO of The Ratto Group. "By integrating Wrightspeed's powertrains into our existing commercial fleet, we're initiating a progressive solid waste and recyclables collection strategy that will maximize the life of our vehicles, cut fuel consumption and emissions, and have a positive environmental impact on our service areas."

"As an early adopter of our powertrain technology, Lou Ratto has solidified Sonoma County as a leader in pioneering new technologies that will improve and preserve the region for future generations," said Ian Wright, Founder and CEO of Wrightspeed. "We're proud to collaborate with Lou and his team and to establish our powertrain technology as the economical and environmental choice for cleaner, quieter and more efficient communities."

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  • 1 year later...

The Future Of Electrified Trucks, A Discussion With Tesla Cofounder Ian Wright

Kyle Field, CleanTechnica  /  December 2, 2017

The Tesla Semi Truck announcement represents a head-on challenge to the way people move goods around the country, but Tesla is not the first to move into plug-in trucks — far from it. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tesla cofounder Ian Wright, who has since moved on to start his own company Wrightspeed, which has been helping shipping companies slash their heavy-duty truck emissions for years with its hybrid powertrains. [Note: We also had a Cleantech Talks interview with Ian Wright in 2015 that’s worth a listen.]

Getting right to the heart of the matter, we talked about the Tesla Semi announcement and what it meant for reducing or eliminating emissions from heavy-duty trucks. Ian shared that, while Tesla was able to put on a good show, electrifying heavy-duty powertrains was nothing new. “I’m very pleased to see other companies getting around to addressing trucks,” he shared. “As Tesla did with cars, [the Tesla Semi announcement] will raise awareness across the industry.” Ian commented that using fully electric trucks for long hauls did not make sense to him, as the sheer number of batteries required for a long-distance haul would make the vehicles extremely capital intensive, in addition to the weight of the batteries having a detrimental impact on hauling capacity.

Ian and company took a different tack with Wrightspeed, which focuses on striking a balance between reducing fuel consumption and emissions as much as possible by looking at the least efficient applications of internal combustion engine vehicles. They found the sweet spot — or the sooty spot, if you will — to be refuse trucks and local delivery vehicles like those used by FedEx and UPS.

The Wrightspeed Solution

To realize this opportunity, the Wrightspeed team built a suite of powerful yet efficient plug-in hybrid powertrains for heavy-duty, frequent, stop-drive cycle trucks that allow owners to slash fuel consumption and emissions more than 50% compared to conventional petrol powertrains. Wrightspeed does this by utilizing electric motors alone to drive the wheels and move the vehicle forward, which is complemented by a microturbine that runs on any number of fuels — including liquid propane, diesel, liquid natural gas, compressed natural gas, or even landfill recovered gas (sour gas). The microturbine exists solely to provide electricity to the battery packs.

The efficient combination translates into serious savings, with an estimated 4 year return on investment for customers compared to the extremely inefficient, maintenance-intensive petrol-fired refuse or delivery truck. The Wrightspeed plug-in hybrid electric powertrain was such an innovative, impactful solution that Wrightspeed was recognized by the World Economic Foundation as a 2016 Technology Pioneer. Wrightspeed’s powertrain solutions deliver:

  • Up to 67% reduction in fuel consumption

  • Up to 63% reduction in emissions

  • Up to $25,000 reduction in annual maintenance

One of the many innovations in Wrightspeed’s solution is its Fulcrum microturbine, which was developed in-house. Ian shared that it delivers efficiencies that are very close to the same as the best of the gasoline piston range extenders used in the Chevy Volt and the BMW i3. With comparable efficiency, where the turbine really shines is in maintenance. With only one moving part, two bearings, and no piston rings, maintenance is as easy as changing the air filter and fuel filter, which are extremely simple compared to the maintenance required on a heavy-duty diesel refuse truck or delivery truck.

Friend or Foe?

With such a prominent name in electrified vehicles entering into the competitive landscape, my question was “does the Tesla Semi Truck announcement change anything for Wrightspeed?” Ian shared that he believed Tesla moving into electrified trucks would help the mainstream media and mainstream consumers to be more aware of the problem and the varied solutions available to solve the problem and that, if anything, it should help the industry.

Battery Technology

Just as in the early days of internal combustion vehicles, today’s electric vehicles feature numerous innovative technologies, with batteries representing one of the most varied of the bunch. I asked who supplied Wrightspeed’s batteries and Ian shared that they used Toshiba’s lithium-titanate (LTO) batteries. He shared that back in 2003, when he was with Tesla, their battery technology improvement projections led them to expect batteries to improve much faster than they have.

There have been cost-competitive technologies in batteries like lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePo) that have promise and are being adopted for commercial applications today. BYD and SimpliPhi Power are two big names using LiFePo chemistries, for example. There are also a number of emerging chemistries, like lithium-titanate, where Ian expects costs to continue to come down over the coming years as volume ramps up.

Lithium-titanate batteries are already being used in a handful of electric vehicle applications, like Honda’s Fit EV and some of the Japanese versions of Mitsubishi’s MiEV, but the tech has yet to see true mass-production volumes. Ian believes it is superior to more conventional lithium-ion chemistries because it is not prone to thermal runaway, and he noted that it is the hardest battery chemistry to have any bad things happen, making it very safe. That’s exactly what you want when you are lugging around a few hundred kilograms of batteries in an electric car or truck, if you ask me.

In addition, LTO batteries can be charged down to -30°C whereas many of the other high-energy battery chemistries cannot be charged below freezing. This means the batteries do not require a heating circuit to keep them from freezing, nor do they have to expend the energy to keep the liquids in the battery from freezing.

Finally, the constituents of LTO batteries are not sourced from conflict areas, like the hotly debated cobalt in Tesla’s batteries. Cobalt is not a show-stopper at current volumes, but with the majority (63%) sourced from politically unstable Democratic Republic of the Congo, it will have to be managed very closely if automakers using it are going to sustain the insane growth curves EVs and stationary storage are going to experience over the coming years. LTO batteries are also easier to recycle than chemistries containing cobalt.

What’s Ahead for Wrightspeed?

Ian shared that he is passionate about completely displacing heavy-duty vehicles in open environments and believes the financials make it a no-brainer for many companies around the world today. Converting the heavy-duty vehicles roaming around neighborhoods to pick up trash day in and day out to plug-in hybrid electric and fully electric powertrains will also have a noticeable impact on noise pollution. That’s another one of the many, many benefits of electrified transportation that we just don’t talk enough about.

Feedback so far is extremely positive for Wrightspeed, with most people left in awe of how quiet they make refuse trucks. Regenerative braking also has an extremely positive upside in that conventional refuse trucks chew up a set of brake pads in 3 months. That’s a lot of nasty particulate that we have been breathing in that simply goes away with plug-in vehicles.

Wrightspeed is currently focused on the US and North American markets but has had significant interest from folks in New Zealand where they are paying $8/gallon for petrol.

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