New Zealand made electric rubbish truck saving ratepayer dollars and the environment

Kapiti rubbish truck

A small council is making a big dent in its carbon emissions, thanks to strong leadership and embedding environmental sustainability into the foundations of their long term plan.

Kapiti Coast Rubbish Truck FINAL [pdf 197 KB]


Kāpiti Coast District Council is the first local authority in New Zealand to gain CEMARS (Certified Emissions Management And Reduction Scheme, administered by Enviro-Mark Solutions) certification for managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It aims to have reduced its operational carbon footprint by 80% by 2021-22, compared to its 2009-
10 baseline year, and is well on the way to achieving this with annual greenhouse gas emissions already cut in half.

“Petrol and diesel emissions are around 9% of the Council’s overall carbon footprint and energy costs,“ says Council’s Senior Environmental Advisor Jake Roos.

“We’ve reduced fuel use through improved vehicle economy, driver training and more efficient deployment, but we wanted to do more to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut our transport-related emissions. Working with Palmerston North-based Zero Emission Vehicles Ltd (ZEV) gave us an opportunity to do this, and support a local business with good potential for growth. However we had to be hard-nosed about the economics, practicalities and the risk management of the project.”

“Our analysis showed the total cost of ownership was no more than the diesel option, and in practice we’re finding it’s much less”

“We reviewed our fleet to identify the best heavy-diesel vehicle for replacement with an electric vehicle. It became obvious that the small refuse compactor truck had the highest and most consistent daily usage and would be a good fit with the potential to maximise fuel savings from going electric. The battery pack could be sized to cover the daily required range, with the vehicle recharged at night at the Council depot in Paraparaumu.”

“We initially looked at doing a conversion – buying a diesel truck and converting it to electric – but there wasn’t a price difference and we felt a new build was going to be more reliable. Our analysis showed the total cost of ownership was no more than the diesel option, and in practice we’re finding it’s much less,” says Mr Roos.

From this starting point, ZEV developed a proposal. Provisions were added to manage potential issues such as premature aging of batteries and maintenance downtime, and the Council sought independent technical advice. The result was a very robust contract that covered the Council for taking on a ‘first of its kind’ vehicle.

The Council’s ZEV 9000 was built in Palmerston North with parts sourced both locally and from around the world, and was tested in Ōtaki. The lead time from order to delivery was twelve months.

The ZEV 9000 hit the streets of Kāpiti for testing in May 2013 before becoming fully operational in October 2013. Following some initial teething issues and a couple
of breakdowns, as design issues were discovered and remedied, it has been smooth running since March 2014.

To the beginning of September 2015, the truck has been driven over 52,000km. The vehicle is in daily use, collecting refuse from public litter bins from Waikanae to Ōtaki. It has been driven over 200km in a single day ‘on the job’, but typically it is driven around 100km per day. Supervisor Paul Halliday reports the drivers are happy with the vehicle.

“They’re managing fine with no issues, so it’s just business as usual for us now.”

An added bonus for locals is the extremely quiet engine and lack of dirty exhaust smoke.

Mr Roos says the ZEV 9000 does the most kilometres of any of the vehicles in the Council’s fleet but has the lowest running costs of any of the trucks. “Recharging costs are a third of the fuel costs of an equivalent diesel vehicle, providing a saving of around $3,800 annually for the Council. Greenhouse gas emissions savings for the Council are 12 tonnes of CO2 per annum.”

“Two years on, there has been no noticeable degradation in the battery pack capacity and the vehicle’s maintenance requirements and costs – such as engine servicing – are less too. ZEV have been great to work with and have provided excellent support to Council.”

And Mr Roos says the Council won’t be stopping there to reduce transport emissions. Light electric vehicles are being investigated for the Council’s fleet as these are reducing substantially in cost.

Andrew Rushworth, ZEV Managing Director says his company now has two compacting truck models available: the ZEV 9000 (as used on the Kapiti Coast) and the larger ZEV 12000 which the company can offer on an operating lease at a comparable cost of ownership to an equivalent diesel vehicle.

“The experience working with the Council has been invaluable for developing and refining our products. It has been great working with them and we really appreciate them being first adopters of this technology. It has been a win:win for both us.”

Kāpiti Coast rubbish truck specifications

  • Maximum laden weight (GVW) - 9000kg
  • Motors - 2 x TM4 liquid cooled three  phase radial flux permanent magnet motors
  • Combined Motor power 74 kW sustained, 160 kW peak
  • Combined Motor torque 130 Nm sustained, 340 Nm peak
  • Transmission - ZEV EPU4 with integrated Power Take Off (PTO)
  • Battery capacity - 104 kWh, comprising 108 x 300 Ah cells
  • On-board battery charger - 8 kW single phase
  • Power steering - ZEV electric over hydraulic power steering
  • Headlights – Hella LED
  • Compactor - 5m³ electronically controlled hydraulically operated rear paddle wheel compactor
  • Control electronics including battery management - ZEV EVNet with Wabco ABS

Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) is a New Zealand-based company that designs and builds electric drive products primarily for the heavy commercial road transport fleet. For further information contact


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