Econ Engineering, a leading provider of winter maintenance vehicle solutions, has introduced an innovative electric gritter truck capable of fulfilling multiple roles throughout the year, while operating with zero-tailpipe emissions. The company’s groundbreaking Electric Quick Change Body (E-QCB) system enables seamless switching between different demountable body options, including a gritter body for winter maintenance, a tipper body for highways maintenance, and a cage tipper for refuse collection and recycling. With the ability to transition between bodies in just 15 minutes using hydraulic rams controlled by a single operator, the truck offers unparalleled flexibility.
The inaugural vehicle in Econ’s new ‘Econ Zero’ range is a fully functional prototype built on a 19-tonne Volvo FE Electric 4×2 chassis. The development of this model was a result of close collaboration between Econ Engineering’s R&D team, product specialists from Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland, and supplying dealer Crossroads Truck & Bus. Jonathan Lupton, Managing Director at Econ Engineering, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with Volvo, emphasizing the extensive design improvements and trials conducted to ensure a fully electric solution that can be utilized year-round.
Lupton highlighted that the vehicle is particularly well-suited for urban environments with shorter daily distances. The ability to easily switch between body types allows customers to maximize the vehicle’s utilization throughout the year. Econ Engineering remains committed to advancing its Econ Zero range and other renewable energy innovations in alignment with the evolving infrastructure supporting such initiatives in the UK.
The unveiling of the electric gritter truck took place at the Cold Comfort 2023 conference and exhibition in Harrogate, a specialized event dedicated to winter highway maintenance services. Christian Coolsaet, Managing Director of Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland, emphasized the importance of achieving net-zero emissions across all sectors, including gritting and snowploughing. Coolsaet praised Econ’s exceptional product, built on the Volvo FE Electric chassis, as it enables gritter fleets to operate cleaner, quieter, and more efficient trucks.
The new FE Electric chassis offers significant benefits for drivers, including an improved working environment due to reduced vibrations and nearly silent operation. The Volvo powertrain incorporates two electric motors and a two-speed gearbox, delivering a smooth driving experience. The unique traction control system is specifically designed to handle slippery surfaces, ensuring optimal performance.
Equipped with four batteries, the FE Electric chassis provides a range of up to 250km and can be rapidly recharged in just 2.3 hours using a 150 kW DC charger. Additionally, the charger employs a smart charging strategy, gradually slowing down as the battery nears full capacity to protect the battery cells. This approach allows for swift charging to 80% capacity, similar to the convenience of charging a smartphone.
Econ Engineering, headquartered in Yorkshire, has been a leader in winter maintenance vehicle solutions for over 50 years. The company designs and manufactures gritters and other specialized vehicles widely utilized by local authorities and private contractors across the UK. With the introduction of their new electric gritter truck and commitment to renewable energy innovations, Econ Engineering aims to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future in the field of winter maintenance.