First electric fire truck in US finds a buyer: Los Angeles

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While cities are generally ahead of the curve when it comes to electrifying fleets, the hard reality is that some types of heavy-duty vehicles—like fire trucks—simply don’t exist yet in fully electric form.

Case in point: The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) will be the first North American agency to take delivery of an electric fire truck from Austrian firm Rosenbauer.

The single fire truck is scheduled to be delivered in 2021, and will likely be assigned to a fire station in Hollywood.

And technically, the truck isn’t a fully electric vehicle; it’s a range-extended electric vehicle. It will have two battery packs with a combined capacity of 100 kilowatt-hours, allowing for about two hours of all-electric operation, according to Rosenbauer. That will cover 90% of use cases, the company said.

For the other 10%—the longer-duration operations—the truck will also be equipped with a diesel range extender.

The vehicle will be a production-ready version of Rosenbauer’s Concept Fire Truck (CFT), which was first shown to the public in 2016.

In addition to its extended-range electric powertrain, the CFT featured other design innovations, including more compact proportions than traditional fire trucks, as well as digital information screens and connectivity features that seem to be obligatory in all modern vehicles.

Rosenbauer expects up to 400 vehicles based on the CFT design to be operating in North America by 2025.

Rosenbauer Concept Fire Truck

While not as glamorous as electric passenger cars, electric municipal vehicles are making some headway. At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Tropos Motors displayed a tiny electric fire truck small enough to fit into underground parking garages.

Just as the LAFD is experimenting with an electric fire truck, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has tested Tesla Model S and BMW i3 electric cars in an effort to reduce its fleet’s emissions.

Even garbage trucks are going electric, with Mack and BYD showing off prototype models in recent years.

Vehicles like these can play an important role in reducing emissions. Emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, and other vehicles used by city agencies operate in crowded urban areas, often idling for long periods of time.

City governments seem to be figuring out the importance of greening their fleets with all types of electric vehicles. Just this week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an executive order calling for all municipal vehicles to be electric by 2040. Perhaps Rosenbauer will find a market for its fire truck in the Big Apple, too

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