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New York turns back to diesel snow plows and leaves electric vehicles behind

By Eden Villalovas,

2023-11-09

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New York w ill rely on diesel-powered snow plows as opposed to electric ones this Winter, halting its goal to put electric ones on the street after a failed testing period.

Three years ago, the New York Department of Sanitation ordered seven electric rear loader garbage trucks made by Mack LR Electric. The department has not been able to find electric trucks that are powerful enough to plow snow like the original diesel ones.

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Each truck made by Mack cost more than $523,000 and was part of a long-term goal under the NYC Clean Fleet Transition Plan to move toward a majority of “clean” energy versions by 2035, with emergency and specialized trucks totally converted to electric vehicles by 2040. In total, the electric vehicle trucks made up a small fraction of the department’s fleet — as of December 2022, they have 2,100 garbage trucks and 6,000 total vehicles.

The electric vehicle trial period failed to produce the desired results needed to move away from diesel snow plows.

“In our test of the non-diesel rear-loaders, we found that they could not plow the snow effectively,” Commissioner of the New York Department of Sanitation Jessica Tish said during a City Council hearing in November 2022, per the New York Sun . “We need them to go 12 hours and so I do not see today, given the current state of the technology, a path forward to fully electrifying the rear loader portion of the fleet by 2040.”

The tests indicate sanitation trucks will likely not fully electrify by 2040, like the department hoped, as the electric trucks do not perform well in cold temperatures. Snow plowing specific trucks aside, multiple studies have found that electric cars require extra care during the winter season and have lower fuel efficiency at colder temperatures than petrol and diesel vehicles.

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According to a study from 2019 by AAA, an electric vehicle's driving range can drop around 41% when it's 20 degrees and the heat is on.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the New York Department of Sanitation for comment.

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