Landmark reached in eCollect production

4/11/2023 2:00:00 PM
The 100th eCollect left the Dennis Eagle factory in Warwick earlier this year, representing a milestone not only for Dennis Eagle but for the waste collection industry too.

By coincidence, the zero-emissions eRCV was delivered to Nottingham City Council, the same customer that received the very first eCollect two years earlier.

The all-electric vehicle has since gone into service with both public and private sector operators across the UK and Ireland. And wherever they have gone, these trail-blazing vehicles have been greeted with a flurry of publicity for operators who have used them to win vital public support for a zero-emissions future.

As each vehicle is fitted with our telematics system, we have continued to learn about the eCollect as they go about their daily business and the conclusions we have drawn from this are very reassuring.

The extraordinary amount of testing and refining we put the vehicle through before launch appears to have paid off. Where we’ve identified potential improvements, we’ve been able to make them without any major issues. And the result of this is that the eCollect is no longer seen as an alternative RCV. Instead, it is widely accepted as a mainstream vehicle that represents the future of the waste collection.

In Nottingham, when the city council received its first two eCollects in 2021, it described them as “the holy grail of electric municipal vehicles”. But since then, it has steadily increased its fleet and now has 20 eCollects operating or arriving imminently, along with many other smaller electric vehicles.

“Of course, we were very proud to be the first,” said Andrew Smith, Assistant Manager (Fleet) at Nottingham City Council.

“But – in the nicest possible way – we don’t even think about them now. They just do what they’re designed to do, collect the waste. And that’s a sure sign of success, if you can leave them to get on and do the job they’re there for, without giving them a second thought …

“We ordered seven more in the last batch. That will coincide with the switch-on of our latest piece of recharging infrastructure, so they’ll all be in operation soon, no fuss, no bother.”

Nottingham’s approach has been to add to its fleet as more of its recharging infrastructure has become available and its conventional diesel vehicles needed replacing. More than a third of its fleet of 55 RCVs are now eCollects, putting the local authority well and truly in the vanguard of the transition to zero-emissions waste collections.

Others are following suit and the orders continue to grow. It now accounts for more than half of all eRCVs working in the UK and Ireland.

And as the numbers of vehicles operating continues to grow, so too does the development of the vehicle into different sizes and configurations.

In the summer of 2022, the second iteration of the eCollect was made available to customers in the UK and Ireland: a 4x2 with a five-tonne payload. Again, this involved minimal changes from the corresponding 18-tonne diesel model and was essentially a smaller version of the original eCollect.

The configuration was made in close consultation with our customers. Air quality was high among their priorities and they wanted a nimble eRCV with a smaller footprint that could operate efficiently on narrow, cluttered urban roads and back streets. These locations suffer from some of the poorest air quality in the UK. And more developments are already in the pipeline.

Dennis Eagle Marketing Manager Lee Rowland said: “We put a huge amount into developing and fine-tuning the original eCollect for launch and it clearly paid off.

“Even though these were ground-breaking vehicles – the first all-electric RCVs made by an original equipment manufacturer – they settled in to their roles very smoothly thanks to all the preparation we put them through.

“And with more than 100 vehicles out there now, all communicating with both their operators and with us through our industry-specific telematics system, we’ve continued to learn a lot more over the last two years.

“The early adopters – the first to operate this vehicle – have been trail-blazers and have helped us iron out any wrinkles. Now, it’s very gratifying to see the eCollect accepted and no longer seen as ‘alternative’ or ‘special’ but as ‘the norm’. They’re there to do a job and they just get on and do it. But better.”