Queens garbage trucks to get cleaner with hybrids

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The men in the green outfits will be the ones making the borough a little greener in months to come as the city Sanitation Department introduces three new diesel-hybrid garbage trucks into its fleet, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in Maspeth Monday.

Speaking at the Sanitation garage on 58th Road at 47th Street, Bloomberg and other officials said the trucks were prototypes that will be tested out on routes in western Queens, including Maspeth. Officials hope to have them assigned and operating after Labor Day.

The vehicles, manufactured by Mack Trucks and Crane Carrier Company, will have between 25 percent and 30 percent better gas mileage than the traditional trucks, which average around three miles per gallon, Sanitation Commissioner John Daugherty said. Visually they do not differ much from existing trucks except for being two feet longer and sporting “hybrid” decals.

“We’ve been thinking about these vehicles from the time they came out with hybrid cars,” Daugherty said. “They’re going to be the truck of the future.”

The trucks are twice as expensive as their conventional counterparts — $500,000 instead of $250,000 — but Bloomberg said federal funding took care of the additional cost. They are equipped with a diesel engine and an electric motor that can work independently or in tandem and recharge their batteries when the driver hits the brakes.

“Even though these cost a bit more ... we do think there is every reason to believe they will quickly cover the additional cost,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg also announced the city was leasing 10 MINI Cooper electric cars from manufacturer BMW. The cars have a 100-mile range on their batteries and will be used by the city Parks Department and the mayor’s Street Conditions Observation Unit Teams that go out looking for quality-of-life issues across the city.

The SCOUT teams currently use small, three-wheeled Interceptor vehicles.

Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW North America, said the vehicles will test the viability of rechargeable electric cars in an urban environment.

“This is an experiment,” he said, denying the cars were scheduled to hit the market in 2010.

Bloomberg said the city is also working with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. on a study of how to prepare for the advent of plug-in electric vehicles on the consumer market, including methods to speed the permit process for at-home recharge boxes and city-run electricity stations.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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