Freightliner has launched a dedicated refuse truck called the EconicSD in North America, based on a European design. Photo: Jack Roberts

Freightliner has launched a dedicated refuse truck called the EconicSD in North America, based on a European design. Photo: Jack Roberts

Like all trucking market segments today, the refuse industry is experiencing a technology revolution. Refuse’s technology revolution is happening at double-time, as the trucks that serve this market are quickly adopting advanced safety systems, autonomous control systems, telematics, and highly sophisticated hydraulics that are enabling a host of new side- and rear-loading refuse collection systems.

Until now, if you saw a Freightliner working in the refuse industry, odds are it was a medium-duty 114SD or 117SD conventional truck. But now, Daimler’s premier North American truck brand is heavily leveraging its European design and engineering expertise to bring the EconicSD low-entry cabover to the refuse industry.

“This truck is a game-changer,” said Richard Saward, general manager government and vocational vehicle sales, Freightliner, at the EconicSD’s unveiling in Las Vegas on the eve of WasteExpo 2018. “With this truck, we are offering refuse fleets next-level safety, productive and uptime, both inside and out. We now have a purpose-built refuse truck for this industry with a low COE configuration optimized to accommodate side- and rear-loader bodies.”

The EconicSD is a mature design that has been hauling refuse in Europe since the 1990s. In 2012, however, Daimler completely refreshed the design, adding a more ergonomic cab in terms of both entry and exit, as well as interior appointments and the latest technology to enhance safety and productivity.

For its North American debut, the EconicSD has undergone an additional updating that Saward said included 128 separate enhancement projects. The result is a thoroughly modern design that is loaded with the latest safety, telematics, and autonomous technology.

Perhaps the most eye-catching feature on the EconicSD are the cab doors, which run the entire length of the cab and look more like a transit bus door than ones normally seen on vocational trucks. The result, said DTNA officials, is a design that allows even tall drivers to enter and exit the cab easily without stooping. The EconicSD’s low-entry concept is further enhanced by a kneeling and lifting cab, which further reduces the truck’s already low step-in height. A pneumatic, bi-fold passenger door with full-length tinted glass is available as optional equipment.

A Robust Suite of Standard Safety Features

Inside, the EconicSD’s cab design is spacious and features an intuitive digital instrument cluster and a large, panoramic windshield. A highly optimized rear-view mirror system is designed to eliminate blind spots and complement onboard safety camera systems. Electronic stability control is standard, as is active brake assistance, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. The EconicSD’s short wheelbase and deep wheel cuts allow for excellent maneuverability in urban working conditions.

A slew of safety options can be spec’d for the new truck to complement the robust suite of standard safety features. These include Daimler’s proprietary Detroit Assurance, a side guard object/pedestrian warning system, as well as a built-in camera safety system with 360-degree views around the truck displayed on a flat-screen dash monitor.

Under the small doghouse mounted behind the cab interior is the standard Detroit DD8 Diesel engine and Allison 3000 Series, 6-speed automatic transmission that power the EconicSD. Power output for the DD8 is 350 horsepower and 1,050 lbs.-ft. of torque. An engine brake and Detroit Connect Virtual Technician remote diagnostic system are standard.

In an age of electric powertrains and alternate fuels, Saward said Freightliner made a strategic decision to focus on diesel power for the EconicSD right out of the box. “Around 50% of refuse haulers working today are powered by diesel engines,” he noted. “Everything is on the table for Daimler when it comes to electric trucks and alternative fuels. However, given the strong presence of diesel in refuse today, it makes sense for us to focus on that technology first and move to alternative fuels, CNG or possibly electric drivertrains in the future.”

Freightliner will begin taking orders for the EconicSD in June. EconicSD components will be shipped in from Europe and assembled in Gaffney, South Carolina, beginning in April 2019.


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