Ontario (CA) – When you think of garbage trucks… oh sorry… refuse trucks, you think of big noisy and smelly vehicles, but Fresno is trying to fix all that with its plug-in hybrid truck. Ok, so they can’t get rid of the smell, but they sure can save on the noise. The truck, named Heidi the Hybrid, is powered by electricity for the main engine and compressed natural gas for the lift hydraulics. Heidi is so silent that Fresno utility leadworker Raul Bombardly told us he has to drive very carefully because people sometimes don’t hear the truck coming.
SLIDESHOW: Heidi the garbage truck hybridWe saw the truck and talked to Mr. Bombardly at the Clean Vehicle Expo at the Ontario Convention Center today. Bombardly drives the truck nearly every day and said, “People don’t hear us coming, sometimes they’ll step out in front of the truck at the sidewalk.”
Heidi can do 60 miles per hour on the freeway running on battery power. According to Bombardly, the truck is “great” to drive and is surprisingly smooth. Compared to a normal garbage truck, Heidi saves approximately 20 to 30 gallons of diesel fuel a day and at the end of a shift, the truck plugs into a commercial electrical outlet and charges over night.
Bombardly hopes the city can buy more of these trucks in the coming years, but admits city budgeting may come into play, “It’s all about money,” he added.
One interesting benefit of running on electricity is the lack of diesel fumes for the garbage workers. When you think of it, these guys have to stand on or by the truck for hours at a time and Bombardly said traditional trucks almost always have fumes, either from the exhaust of from diesel leaking on the ground.
But despite Heidi’s environmentally friendly lack of exhaust, Bombardly said one thing remains the same – “it still smells like trash.”