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A hybrid refuse collection vehicle in Mulhouse

The Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération conurbation authority has just taken delivery of a hybrid refuse collection vehicle developed by Renault Trucks which will be used to collect domestic waste in sixteen communes. "This is making a powerful statement," stresses Jean-Marie Bockel, president of the regional authority. The choice of such a vehicle is in line with the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority’s Climate Plan, one of the most far-reaching in France. It also reflects the determination of the elected representatives in Alsace to make use of the most innovative technology whenever possible.

On Friday 20 January, Eric Gabas, Renault Trucks' Sales Director presented the keys of a Premium Distribution Hybrys Tech to Jean-Marie Bockel, president of the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority. Configured as a refuse collection vehicle (RCV), this hybrid 26 t 6x2 340 hp Euro V vehicle has an electric motor with peak and continuous consumption of 120 kW and 70 kW respectively. It will be used to collect waste from 16 of the 32 communes in the conurbation, operating in the very centre of Mulhouse and its pedestrian streets as well as the inner suburbs. This will enable the Urban Waste Collection Department to test this hybrid vehicle in different configurations and decide if it should acquire others.

A pioneer in France, in 2009, the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority launched its Climate Plan. The choice of a hybrid RCV is perfectly in line with this initiative. "As soon as we heard about experiments being carried out with a hybrid refuse collection vehicle, we became very interested in such a technology," explains Jean-Marie Bockel. "We were very quickly shown a prototype and made a request to have one as soon as possible. A vehicle like this enables the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority to keep in line with its current initiatives designed to reach the overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

The second reason for choosing the hybrid RCV was its innovative aspect. The Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority has earned a reputation for making daring technical choices. And the list is long. "We were one of the first to acquire a semitrailer RCV with an articulated axle and equipped with a rear air suspension. We put the first refuse collection vehicles with particulate filters into service. And now there is this latest move towards hybrid technology. It is our duty as a public authority to follow this trend," explains Antoine Adler, the assistant director in charge of services for the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority.

Renault Trucks has been carrying out experiments with hybrid technology for the last three years. In 2009, the manufacturer tested a prototype refuse collection vehicle under actual operating conditions in the streets of Greater Lyon for almost a year. Having operated for some 500 hours, the vehicle covered over 5,000 km in that time and collected 550 tonnes of waste. This first test version enabled Renault Trucks engineers to make significant modifications to following generations which have been incorporated into the refuse collection vehicle delivered to the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority. This Premium Distribution Hybrys Tech will be the first hybrid RCV to be operated commercially as part of a fleet and will be maintained by Renault Trucks Catra in Rixheim (Alsace).

Hybrid technology is particularly suitable for distribution or waste collection in urban or periurban environments. Apart from significant savings in fuel consumption, which can be as much as 25% less than a conventional RCV by using the all-electric mode, it also significantly lowers noise levels for those living in the vicinity. Thanks to the Premium Distribution Hybrys Tech, the carbon audit for the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération authority will show a saving of some 10 t of CO2 a year.

The hybrid principle developed by Renault Trucks is straightforward: the kinetic energy from the vehicle is recovered during braking or deceleration phases and transformed into electricity. This energy is stored in the traction batteries - which operate perfectly independently without needing any recharging – and then used to power the electric motor. The vehicle starts in electrical mode until it reaches a speed of around 20 km an hour, when the Diesel engine takes over. It is then only used during phases where it consumes the least, i.e. apart from during start-up.

Renault Trucks Clean Tech vehicles

To meet the environmental challenge road transport now has to face and its customers' growing demand for vehicles that pollute less, particularly in built-up areas, Renault Trucks has been developing alternative technologies to Diesel for several years. These include electricity, hybrid solutions and also compressed natural gas (CNG). Vehicles using these three types of energy are covered by the Clean Tech label and are mainly designed for applications in urban or periurban environments.

Concerned by the need to provide a quality of maintenance identical to that offered for vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, Renault Trucks has begun the process of awarding Clean Tech labels to repairers in its network. This is because these new technologies make it necessary to develop specific skills and install the appropriate tools required for servicing this type of vehicle.

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