Electric conversion specialists Lunaz has successfully tested its new ‘upcycled’ refuse lorry as part of the brand’s new Upcycled Electric Vehicles (UEV) division, with its makers claiming the electrified bin lorry has best-in-class hill climbing abilities.
Earlier this year Lunaz Applied Technologies (LAT) unveiled its first ‘upcycled’ Mercedes refuse lorry to showcase how current combustion-engined industrial vehicles could be switched to run on electric power.
The Silverstone-based firm is currently best known for converting classic luxury cars to run on electric power – including a Rolls-Royce Phantom Mk5 that has set an unofficial Brands Hatch lap record for an ‘electromod’. Not heard about that? Well, then we suggest you click here to read the story and watch Move Electric’s mega video.
Lunaz says that after testing the upcycled refuse lorry on a 1.5 gradient at Millbrook Proving ground in Bedfordshire, the UEV ascended the hill while still having 738lb ft of torque in reserve, equivalent to that of the Bugatti Veyron hypercar.
The hillclimb test was part of Lunaz’s ongoing ten-year development programme which has been compressed into two years, testing five identical Mercedes Econic UEVs simultaneously.
Currently, the vehicles are being subject to 300,000 miles of durability testing an Millbrook’s ‘Belgian Pave’ cobbled road, more than 500 hours of driver calibration - where pedal feel and power delivery are refined - and 800 hours of energy optimisation, with the firm looking to balance energy consumption and performance.
The UEVs have a top speed of 56mph, higher than the 35mph which most vehicles in its class can achieve.
Lunaz added that to support drivers using the UEVs, resources have been applied to testing to improve noise, vibration and harshness of the vehicles.
Sister brand Lunaz Design has supplied an electrified 1961 Bentley Continental Flying Spur for acoustic benchmarking purposes, with Lunaz engineer’s targeting a 40% reduction in cabin noise compared to a diesel Mercedes Econic.
By converting existing machines, Lunaz says it removes the need for industrial vehicle operators to buy brand new electric machines in the future. The firm claims that converting an existing vehicle to a UEV saves more than 80% of the embedded carbon compared to buying new. It says the process is also cheaper – and converting an old machine will cost “broadly the same” as buying a new diesel equivalent.
Lunaz has developed the process for vehicles built using the Mercedes-Benz Econic platform, a specialist platform for industrial vehicles in classes 5, 6, 7 and 8. Lunaz says there are 80 million existing machines built on this platform in the UK, EU and US, and claims it has signed fleet electrification agreements with councils and private firms in both the UK and US.
Fittingly, the first vehicle Lunaz has saved from the potential scrapheap is a bin lorry. Lunaz says the process starts by giving the machine a bare-metal restoration, which effectively returns it to ‘factory new’ condition. The diesel engine is then removed and replaced by a Lunaz-developed modular electric powertrain.
A raft of safety and software upgrades are them made, including digital wing mirrors, and blindspot detection systems that use Radar and 360-degrees cameras. Following research, Lunaz has also upgraded the passenger seats to offer greater comfort, and revamped the layout of the cabin controls.
Lunaz claims that its modular system and approach means waste vehicles can be tailored for specific requirements, with varying sizes of battery packs depending on need. The new Lunaz software also includes telematics software that helps to reduce maintenance times.
Lunaz is due to start deliveries of its UEV machines in 2023. It is currently building a new factory near its current unit at Silverstone which will employ 350 people and will be able to produce 1100 per year.
The firm’s ambitions don’t end there: Lunaz is also plotting factories “around the globe” as part of a bold expansion plan. It has been helped in those ambitions after securing £147 million of investment in a new funding round.