Thursday, April 29, 2021

Car FYI's 2021 Electrified Haulers Showcase: Mack LR Electric

Photo Credit: Mack Trucks

In 1900, brothers Augustus and John Mack would set up a company that would immortalize their name as the generic slang for a heavy truck. One of the oldest-running brands in the commercial truck industry in North America, Mack’s popularity has been based around the production of gasoline and diesel vehicles that were instrumental in supporting our everyday lives. While Mack Trucks have served an integral role in working class life, the brand is also defined for its participation in vital yet unsung jobs including the chore of waste collection. The coldest truth is that many of us may not truly appreciate the mechanics of a machine used for the purposes of removing refuse. However, Mack’s latest LR Electric model may give us reason to admire the vehicle we ineloquently refer to as a garbage truck. 

With pre-production models currently being demonstrated in New York City and by North Carolina-based Republic Services, the Mack LR Electric is a battery-powered refuse truck touting improved maintenance costs compared to its diesel counterparts. LR Electric closely resembles its fuel-burning siblings of Mack’s LR model range. Optimized visibility with large windows, ergonomic cab entry and exit through a customizable door system and optional driving positioning are available on fuel-burning LR models is also offered on the battery electric variant. The one key identifying mark of the electrified version of the Mack truck is a copper version of the brand’s iconic Bulldog hood ornament.

Photo Credit: Mack Trucks

Emitting zero tailpipe emissions and reducing quieter than the diesel vehicles typically used for waste removal purposes, the LR Electric is powered by two electric motors generating a maximum 536 horsepower and 4,051lb.-ft of torque. The Mack LR Electric’s supply of electricity is stored in four lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries. Range for the electric truck has not been disclosed but a multi-mode regenerative braking system and 600-volt fast charging capability insures the batteries will be replenished quickly. Along with propelling the heavy-duty vehicle, battery power onboard the LR Electric is also used for the operations of additional accessories including power takeoff, pneumatic controls, steering assist as well as the climate control in the cabin. 

This recent initiative by Mack is actually not the company’s first endeavour into developing electrified vehicles. During the 1930s, the Mack name was applied to the CR series trolley bus that operated along overhead electrical wires for various cities in the United States and Canada. A sizable number of Mack trolley buses would be employed by the Winnipeg Electric Company starting before the start of the second world war as the city’s transit plan began to phase out streetcars. Six Mack CR3S trackless coaches were delivered in late 1938 in time for Winnipeg’s opening commencement of trolley bus services on November 21st of that year. An additional nine Mack CR3S trolley buses were added to the transit system in 1939. These trolley vehicles would be retired by Winnipeg Transit in 1960.

In September of last year, Mack announced full scale production of the LR Electric is set to commence in 2021 at their Macungie, Pennsylvania manufacturing facility. 

Special thanks to historian David Wyatt with the Manitoba Transit Heritage Association for providing information relating to the trolley coaches used by Winnipeg Electric Company. 

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