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Mack Trucks’ 1st all-electric vehicle enters serial production at Lehigh County plant

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Mack Trucks’ first fully-electric heavy-duty refuse truck has entered full production at the company’s Lower Macungie Township assembly plant.

Equipped with a fully electric integrated Mack drivetrain, the Mack LR Electric will serve both commercial and municipal customers. The vehicle was first introduced as a prototype in 2018 with Mack announcing plans in September 2020 to commercialize the LR Electric in 2021.

Pre-production began this past summer at the sprawling 164-acre plant off Route 100, the same place where all heavy-duty Mack trucks built for North America are assembled. The company announced this week its serial production.

“Mack has long been a leader in the refuse segment, and we couldn’t be more pleased to now be producing Mack LR Electric vehicles to help our customers meet their sustainability goals,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president of sales and commercial operations, in a statement. “Customer response to the LR Electric has been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to putting more into fleet operations now that we are in production.”

LR Electric features Mack’s fully integrated electric powertrain with twin electric motors and four NMC lithium-ion batteries providing vehicle propulsion, as well as power for all onboard accessories. The batteries utilize level 3 DC charging at up to a 150 kW rate.

LR Electric may be fitted with equipment bodies from numerous manufacturers based on the unique needs of the customer. The vehicles also feature the same industry-leading ergonomics and visibility as the diesel-powered LR model, as well as the same driver/passenger side driving configurations, seating choices and door options, the company said.

A copper-colored Bulldog hood ornament, signifying the fully electric drivetrain, is featured prominently on the front of the truck.

Refuse trucks run short, repeated routes and are always parked at night in the same place, which makes for easy recharging infrastructure and planning, Mack representatives have said. Frequent stops also provide many opportunities for regenerative braking, which allows for the battery to recharge by converting mechanical energy into usable electrical energy.

LR Electric’s twin electric motors have a combined output of 448 continuous horsepower. The powertrain delivers 4,051 lb.-ft. of torque available from zero RPM, which is fed through a two-speed Mack Powershift transmission to the rear axles. It also operates quietly, which allows the LR Electric to meet the needs of customers working in an urban setting who are seeking to cut noise pollution and operate quietly at night, Mack representatives have said.

Mack LR Electric model

The highly anticipated Mack LR Electric model, Mack Trucks’ first fully electric Class 8 vehicle, is now in serial production at Mack’s Lehigh Valley Operations in Lower Macungie Township.

Gunnar Brunius, vice president and general manager at Lehigh Valley Operations, said Mack is currently fulfilling customer orders; orders for the LR Electric opened in the fourth quarter of 2020.

All orders come backed with service agreements and are supported by Mack GuardDog Connect, the company’s integrated telematics solution, allowing the LR Electric and its batteries to be monitored for battery health and performance. Fault codes are detected when registered by the battery and electric components of the energy storage system, the company said.

Although Mack built some hybrid trucks in the 2000s and tested electric technology in other vehicles, the technology was very expensive at the time. Since then, battery technology has advanced significantly and costs have come down, making a commercial vehicle more viable.

Mack Trucks has provided purpose-built transportation solutions for more than a century. The company is part of the Sweden-based Volvo Group, which helps to drive prosperity through transport solutions by offering trucks, buses, construction equipment, power solutions for marine and industrial applications, financing and services that increase customer uptime and productivity. The company’s net sales last year amounted to about $36.8 billion.

Mack Trucks also has long been committed to the Lehigh Valley. The company employs about 2,500 people regionally. Last year, it completed an $84 million overhaul of its Lehigh Valley Operations site.

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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at pholzmann@lehighvalleylive.com.



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