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High-end UK EV conversion shop Lunaz gets into garbage trucks

British electro-mod specialist Lunaz has diversified from classic cars to the conversion of industrial vehicles under its Lunaz Applied Technologies (LAT) division. 

Lunaz EV-converted classic cars and garbage trucks

This new venture by the company – founded in 2018 by entrepreneur David Lorenz and engineer Jon Hilton, with investment from former soccer star David Beckham – focuses on transforming diesel garbage trucks into electric vehicles, promoting sustainability in waste management.

The upcycling process carried out by Lunaz involves a thorough evaluation, stripping down, and comprehensive restoration of each vehicle. They address bodywork issues and replace or strengthen parts where necessary.

Lunaz’s in-house electric motors and powertrains are specifically designed to maintain the original performance traits of the donor vehicles, helping ensure seamless integration of the new powertrain.

The new 23,226 square-metre facility is dedicated to process more than 1000 garbage trucks annually

The process begins with sourcing old diesel trucks, in this case the popular Mercedes Econic. After a meticulous cleaning, the chosen truck undergoes stripping down, frame repairs, and repainting at a separate facility. 

Stripped shells are then transported to Lunaz’s new 23,226 square-metre facility near the Silverstone Circuit in the UK, which is dedicated to process more than 1000 garbage trucks annually. 

At the facility, Lunaz installs its 370kW powertrain towards the front of the stripped shells to maintain optimal weight distribution. Lunaz also equips the converted garbage trucks with a two-speed high- and low-range gearbox for easy access to torque. This is especially useful during standing starts on steep hills.

Cash injections from David Beckham (centre) are helping Lunaz kick goals
Cash injections from David Beckham (centre) are helping Lunaz kick goals

Working closely with waste management operators, Lunaz determines the ideal battery capacity for each converted truck based on factors like distance covered and the number of pickups. Typically, four to six 65.5kW battery packs, with a maximum total capacity of 393kWh, are mounted on either side of the central ladder chassis with a 22kW AC onboard charger as standard. This is because most garbage trucks typically complete one route per day and are charged overnight, although a rapid DC charger can be specified.

Inside the converted trucks, Lunaz focuses on functionality and comfort. The company reupholsters the seats with durable fabric and includes bright yellow seat belts for safety. The cabin features a revamped dashboard with two 10-inch screens for camera displays. 

Waste collectors also benefit from additional cup holders and heated seats for convenience and comfort. 

Lunaz EV-converted garbage trucks

Lunaz has a bold goal of ending the cycle of buying new vehicles and disposing of old ones. The company believes that upcycling is the key to a sustainable future for transportation – and not just talking about the initial conversion process. Lunaz envisions a future where vehicles are brought back after a certain period for further upcycling.

In addition to real-world road network evaluations, Lunaz subjects its trucks to rigorous tests at renowned British automotive facility, Millbrook Proving Ground. 

Lunaz EV-converted garbage truck diagram

These tests assess performance and battery degradation. Moving forward, Lunaz plans to conduct extreme evaluations of their powertrain technology in Northern Sweden to provide valuable insights into the trucks’ capabilities, validating their efficiency even in the most challenging conditions. 

Aside from environmental benefits, Lunaz’s upcycling efforts are claimed to offer financial advantages.

According to Lunaz CEO David Lorenz, the upcycled vehicles will be less expensive than purchasing new electric models, saving councils and taxpayers millions of dollars. The company has also been in discussions with about 50 local authorities and several waste management companies in the UK, which consider the truck a viable alternative.

While the current facility can handle demand, Lunaz envisions replicating similar factories worldwide, using Silverstone as a blueprint. With a focus on quality, Lunaz sets itself apart by offering a generous seven-year warranty. 

Lunaz EV-converted garbage truck cab

Currently in the final stages of validation testing, Lunaz will soon open order books for its upcycled electric garbage truck.

Most recently, Lunaz has partnered with Altilium, a UK clean technology group funded by the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) that plans to establish Britain’s largest electric vehicle battery recycling facility by 2026, capable of recycling 150,000 batteries annually.

Under this collaboration, Lunaz aims to develop a purpose-built prototype upcycled electric truck that not only transports but also simultaneously discharges end-of-life EV batteries, utilising their power to fuel its journey to Altilium’s recycling facilities. 

The goal is to develop a circular economy by recycling 30,000 metric tonnes of cathode active materials and reduce the carbon footprint associated with battery recycling.

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