Jul 20, 2021 - News

Des Moines' vehicle fleet charges toward electric future

A photo of the side of an orange electric trash truck that says "100% electric."

An electric trash truck during a 2019 demonstration in Germany. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images

Des Moines is embracing electric cars as its first choice to replace old vehicles as they're retired from the city's fleet, according to its finance director.

  • That includes plans to electrify trash trucks as technology and market availability make their purchase more feasible.

Why it matters: Des Moines has about three dozen trash trucks that accounted for almost half of the city's total diesel use (437K gallons) last year.

  • Their eventual replacements to electric or 100% biodiesel would cut CO2 emissions by an estimated 2,200 tons a year.

The big picture: Truck makers began testing electric garbage trucks in the last year or so, promoting them as zero emissions and quieter than the typical diesel counterpart.

  • New York City and Toms River, New Jersey, are among the first local governments to use them.

By the numbers: Diesel-powered garbage trucks generally cost between $200K to $350K, while electric trucks cost around $550K, according to the Asbury Park Press.

  • DSM's electric cars cost about $5K more than a gas-powered one.
  • Yes, but: Maintenance and fuel/energy costs are lower and produce long-term savings.

Between the lines: DSM's first opportunity to buy electric trash, snowplow or dump trucks will likely be in 2025 or later, based on the city's purchasing process, finance director Nickolas Schaul told Axios.

  • In the meantime, new technology allows the city to retrofit some of its larger trucks with systems that use B100, a 100% biodiesel fuel.

Of note: DSM's 726-vehicle fleet currently has four electric cars, and the city plans to add 14 more in the next year.

🎸 Thought bubble: Does anybody else think "The Electric Trash Trucks" could be a good band name?


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