Obscure Electric Truck Maker Named ‘Mack’ Emerges From Stealth Mode

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A number of high profile EV startups have been grabbing for a piece of the electric truck market, but it looks like a little-known name in the electric mobility business could have the drop on them. That would be Mack Truck, the iconic brand name with the familiar bulldog mascot. Mack has been an A-list maker of diesel trucks for more than 120 years, now it has launched itself into the world of electric mobility with the new Mack LR Electric, a fully electrified Class 8 truck.

The Mack Electric Truck Is Not A Surprise, To Some

The addition of the legendary Mack name to the roster of planet-saving, zero emission vehicle makers may shock some, but it will not surprise anybody who has been paying attention.

Back in 2018, Mack let word slip that it intended to dip a toe into the electric truck field, starting with a full battery-electric garbage hauler. It delivered the first iteration of the new LR Electric truck  to the New York City Department of Sanitation in 2020. The company also shipped a second pre-production model to the leading waste hauling firm Republic, to be field tested along a commercial route in Republic’s home state of North Carolina.

“Featuring a fully electric integrated powertrain, the Republic Mack LR Electric is equipped with two electric motors with a combined output of 536 peak horsepower,” Mack explained. “The powertrain delivers 4,051 lb.-ft. of torque available from zero RPM, which is fed through a two-speed Mack Powershift transmission to Mack’s proprietary S462R 46,000-pound rear axles.”

Mack Electric Truck Springs Into Life

The Republic hookup was another step towards a planned production series for launch in 2021, and apparently all went according to plan.

Last December Mack announced that series production of the LR Electric truck was under way at the company’s Lehigh Valley Operations facility in Pennsylvania, the home base for Class 8 Mack vehicles in North America and for export.

In addition to the features noted in the Republic announcement, Mack highlights the LR’s multi-stage regenerative braking system, a must-have for waste hauling trucks that steadily take on more payload while making scores, if not hundreds, of stops on a given day.

Mack also demonstrated its awareness of the electrification-as-a-service trend by taking note of  its new “Mack Ultra Service Agreement” package, which features a battery warranty and monitoring system along with preventative and scheduled maintenance, towing, and repair.

“Supported by Mack GuardDog® Connect, Mack’s integrated telematics solution, the LR Electric and its batteries will be monitored for battery health and performance, and fault codes will be detected when registered by the battery and electric components of the energy storage system,” Mack explained.

Mack’s soup-to-nuts approach is also evident in its communications with its dealer network. Mack dealers are certified to receive the new electric truck only after upgrading their facilities to meet safety, charging, infrastructure and training requirements.

The NYC Sanitation Department had seven more trucks on order as of last December, and now Mack can add one of the nation’s leading recyclers to its electric truck list, the nonprofit, zero waste organization Eco-Cycle.

Making It Easy For The EV-Curious

Mack also stepped up its electrification-as-a-service game earlier this month. As part of a plan to encourage hesitant customers to make an electric truck their next investment, the company introduced its new “Vehicle-as-a-Service” five-year lease package in a hookup with its financial branch Mack Financial Services.

Along with the usual coverage, VaaS enables LR customers to bundle the installed cost of an EV charger into the package, an arrangement that Mack describes as “unique in the industry.”

George Fotopoulos, Mack vice president of the e-mobility business unit (yes, they have one of those now), made it clear that Mack has big plans for its electric truck business.

“The Mack Vehicle-as-a-Service program is designed to address any customer hesitations in adopting electromobility by offering zero upfront costs,” he said.  “Mack took this approach because we believe in BEV technology, we stand behind our electric products, and we want to accelerate industry adoption of this technology.”

What About Fuel Cell Electric Trucks?

Yes, what about them? Mack has not let any word slip about plans for a fuel cell electric truck, but it is part of the Volvo Group. The Volvo Group does not make Volvo branded cars (that part of the name is owned by Geely Motors), but it makes practically everything else, and it has been poking around in the fuel cell field to electrify construction trucks and other equipment.

It is pretty serious about it. Last year the Volvo Group launched a new “cellcentric” branch as a joint venture with Daimler. The plan is to incorporate green hydrogen, produced through water electrolysis with renewable energy, into the zero emission fuel cell electric truck area:

“We are convinced hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric trucks will be key in enabling increased CO2-neutral transportation,” cellcentric explains. “The ambition of the Daimler and Volvo Group joint venture, using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations, will be vital to decarbonize road transport and meet the targets in the Paris agreement.”

Share The Road With Your New Electric Truck

Fuel cell and hydrogen stakeholders in the US have been organizing to accelerate the fuel cell truck market with an assist from the US Department of Energy, so we’ll see if any of that H2 pixie dust rubs off on Mack Truck.

Speaking of organizing, our friends over at Fox News have reportedly been working overtime to follow up their successful publicity for the Canadian “truck convoy” by ginning up participation in a similar action here in the US.

As in the the weeks-long vehicular attack on Ottawa, the apparent plan is to converge on Washington, DC early next month.

Isn’t it funny that US truck drivers would stage a massive attack on the capital city of a second key NATO member (Canada is the other one), at the exact time during which the Commander-in-Chief is trying to rally other NATO members to prevent Russia from starting the biggest, and potentially the most lethal, unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation since World War II.

As of this writing, it appears that few US truck drivers are willing to mimic the right wing domestic terrorist thugs who attacked Congress last year, and potentially lose their driver’s licenses and bank accounts to make their point, whatever it is, but anything could happen in the coming days.

If momentum for the attack on DC does build, it would be quite an embarrassment for the truck companies that sponsor the American Trucking Associations’s Share the Road safety campaign. After all, what US manufacturer would be happy to see their brand associated with vehicle-enabled lawlessness and an organized attack on the nation’s capital while NATO hovers on the brink of war.

Perhaps ATA will crank up their considerable publicity resources to discourage drivers from heading to DC. Or, maybe not. ATA applauded loudly when the US Supreme Court knocked back President Biden’s vaccine mandate last month, and gave itself a pat on the back for bringing the lawsuit that brought down the mandate, too boot.

They might want to get their position on mandates sorted before a mirror image of the Canadian “anti-mandate” attack gathers momentum here in the US.

Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Photo: LR Electric truck courtesy of Mack Truck.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3295 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey