Waste Management: ’07 trucks OK so far

ATLANTA -- Waste Management’s initial impression of its ’07 emissions-compliant trucks is positive, since they are performing much better than expected.

John Lemmons, director of fleet and equipment performance for Waste Management (WM), said in a speech here at Waste Expo that data from the ten ’07 trucks the company currently has on the road shows nearly the same fuel economy as its ’06 trucks. WM has been able to extend its oil drain intervals to 600 hours with the new CJ-4 oil required for all ’07 engines, he added.

“These engines still need to be run in more to give us more accurate long-term data … but we expected much, much worse preliminary performance data that what we are seeing,” he told FleetOwner. But since the “oldest” ’07 vehicle WM has in its fleet was only put into service last November, the jury is still out as to whether these trucks can remain “fuel economy neutral” over the long term.

Another unexpected benefit from ’07 engines is that both horsepower and torque have increased compared with ’06 models, with WM’s drivers reporting a noticeable improvement in the power and responsiveness of the trucks, he said. “That’s another part we’ve been happy about,” Lemmons added.

But there are significant downsides to ’07 technology, he cautioned. The cost to achieve ’07 emission compliance added $10,000 to the base sticker price of WM’s refuse trucks. In addition, they can only use more expensive ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel, which has a sulfur content of 15 ppm. ULSD also requires more expensive additives to counteract bacterial growth in the fuel and improve its cold flow performance.

Still, from a performance perspective, Lemmons said the ’07 systems overall are surprisingly good, and he hopes that doesn’t change as testing continues. “We’re pretty amazed that fuel economy remained flat between our ’07 and ’06 trucks running the same routes,” he noted. “That is pretty encouraging.”

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