Photo courtesy of Mack Trucks

Another Step Toward Zero Emissions: A Medium-Duty Electric Mack Truck

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Mack Trucks has announced its Mack® MD Electric, the first electric Mack Truck in the medium-duty segment of the industry. The Mack MD Electric will be available in Class 6 and Class 7 ratings. The Class 6 model has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 25,995 pounds, and the Class 7 model has a GVWR of 33,000 pounds. Both models are exempt from the 12% Federal Excise Tax (FET).

The Mack MD Electric will be produced at Roanoke Valley Operations (RVO) in Roanoke Valley, Virginia, where Mack began production of the Mack MD Series in 2020.

Mack first revealed the truck in early March at the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) 2023 Work Truck Show at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Zero emission trucks were hardly considered viable just a few years ago. Then again, with nearly 80% of all heavy duty trucks now traveling less than 100 miles each day, range is no longer the issue it once was. The continued reductions in the price of batteries have also influenced the growth in model availability. The benefits of electrifying heavy duty truck fleets are significant — recent studies have shown that operating costs for electric trucks can be between 14% and 52% lower and repair costs around 40% lower than their combustion-powered counterparts.

The MD Electric’s 3-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous motor and all on-board accessories are powered by Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) Oxide lithium-ion batteries, either in a 150kWh or 240kWH configuration. The MD Electric can be charged through AC or DC charging units. The regenerative braking system helps recapture energy from the multiple stops the vehicle makes each day.

Developed specifically for medium-duty applications, the Mack MD Electric is built with a focus on reliability, durability and productivity. Designed with the heavy duty quality of its diesel powered counterparts, the MD Electric is available in 4×2 configurations featuring a sharp wheel-cut for enhanced maneuverability in tight urban settings.

The MD Series cab design features a short bumper-to-back-of-cab measurement of 103 inches. Similar to the diesel-powered Mack MD Series, Mack matched the look and styling of the Mack Anthem, Mack’s highway model, as a basis for the MD Electric grille and hood design.

The MD Electric will meet the needs of trucking applications requiring dry van/refrigerated, stake/flatbed, and dump vocations. The MD6 model does not require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate for non-hazardous payloads. The new entry into the electric trucking world will be supported by Mack dealers, many of which are already Mack Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) dealers.

Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine & Vehicle Standards

In its press release, the company says the MD Electric will complement its “highly efficient, diesel-powered MD model sibling.”

The press release also indicates that the addition of a zero-tailpipe emissions battery-electric vehicle (BEV) to the Mack medium-duty lineup will support the company’s long-term sustainability goals.

Sustainability has become key for the trucking industry. As of January, 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was finalizing a program to further reduce air pollution, including ozone and particulate matter (PM), from heavy-duty engines and vehicles across the US. The final program includes new emission standards that are significantly more stringent and that cover a wider range of heavy-duty engine operating conditions compared to today’s standards. The final program also requires these more stringent emissions standards to be met for a longer period of when these engines operate on the road.

Heavy duty vehicles and engines are important contributors to concentrations of ozone and particulate matter and their resulting threat to public health, which includes premature death, respiratory illness (including childhood asthma), cardiovascular problems, and other adverse health impacts. The final rule making promulgates new numeric standards and changes key provisions of the existing heavy duty emission control program, including the test procedures, regulatory useful life, emission-related warranty, and other requirements.

Together, the provisions in the final rule will further reduce the air quality impacts of heavy duty engines across a range of operating conditions and over a longer period of the operational life of heavy duty engines.

“The Mack MD Electric joins the full lineup of Class 6 to 8 vehicles Mack offers to help customers meet their application needs,” said Jonathan Randall, president of Mack Trucks North America. “Building on the success of the diesel-powered Mack MD Series, the Mack MD Electric will help our customers meet their sustainability goals without sacrificing the durability, reliability, and total cost of ownership for which Mack is known.”

The Mack LR Electric

The Mack MD Electric is the second battery-electric vehicle in Mack Truck’s catalog. The Mack LR Electric went into production in December, 2021 at a time in which a number of high profile EV startups were attempting to establish themselves in the electric truck marketplace. Mack Trucks came on the scene and surprised some onlookers. At that time the company had been a top maker of diesel trucks for more than 120 years, so launching into the world of electric mobility with the Mack LR Electric, a fully electrified Class 8 truck, seemed to make sense.

The Mack LR Electric offers similar comfort, visibility, and reliability as the company’s diesel-powered LR, but has 42% more energy and a standard 376 kWh total battery capacity for increased range. 2 AC motors provide a combined output of 536 peak hp with no exhaust emissions and no after-treatment systems, inviting reduced maintenance. Up to 150kW charge power is available with a max current of 200A, 550–750 volts. Two-stage regenerative braking also recharges batteries on the go. Four fast-charging NMC lithium-ion batteries deliver 600v of power to the 2-speed Mack Powershift transmission, offering 4,051 lb.-ft. peak output torque.

The company boasts that the Mack LR Electric is “built tough to run clean.” The vehicle significantly reduces a “fleet’s carbon footprint” and commits “a company to a cleaner future.”

Final Thoughts about Electric Mack Trucks

Mack Trucks is part of the Volvo Group, which is “driving prosperity through transport and infrastructure solutions, offering trucks, buses, construction equipment, power solutions for marine and industrial applications, financing and services that increase customer uptime and productivity.” Both Mack and its parent company recognize that “a growing global population, urbanization, and e-commerce means that the demand for transportation and infrastructure will continue to increase. At the same time, climate change is the challenge of our generation.”

They say they’re committed to driving the transition to sustainable, safe, and more productive transport and infrastructure solutions while making the journey to become a net zero society.

Photo courtesy of Mack Trucks

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a Model Y as well as a Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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