New York Gives Up on Electric Snow Plows: ‘Insufficient for the Demands of Winter’

HAMBURG , NY - December 24: A plow removes ice and snow along the Lake Erie shoreline on D
John Normile/Getty

New York is staying with traditional diesel-powered snow plows after rejecting electric vehicles proposed as a replacement.

Just over three years ago the New York Department of Sanitation sought several Mack electric trucks to be set up for double duty as part of a goal to become CO2-neutral.

New York differs from many cities in that its garbage trucks double as snow removal vehicles when and if required.

Primarily intended to clean streets and remove garbage, one of these Mack trucks had been fitted with a snow plow as part of an experiment. Essanews reports the move has been a failure. The reason was given as a simple lack of power:

The plow, dragging across the road and the snow buildup in front of it, created substantial resistance. Moreover, the plow required almost constant movement, eliminating the option for loading pauses.

Consequently, the electric vehicle’s power supply was insufficient for the demands of a New York winter, known for its heavy snowfall.

The report further detailed that after nearly two hours, the electric plow had to discontinue the route for recharging.

While the truck was efficient for garbage collection, its performance significantly dipped when faced with the snow removal tasks.

File/Good Samaritans help dig out a plow after an intense lake-effect snowstorm impacted the area on November 18, 2022 in Hamburg, New York. (John Normile/Getty Images)

The vehicles could operate a maximum of only three hours despite the real need being 12 hours. The Vice President of Mack confirmed that with the current technology, considering battery efficiency and their weight, it is not feasible to provide the Department of Sanitation with electric vehicles capable of snow removal – as stated on the website.

This implies diesel trucks will continue in operation, and this scenario is unlikely to change soon, notwithstanding the previously outlined plans to phase them out by 2040 even as New York still struggles to keep the streets clear with current equipment.

The New York Sun flagged the failure just over 12 months ago when it first reported, “New York City officials say the electric garbage trucks it has purchased in the name of combatting climate change cannot do double duty as snowplows — ‘they basically conked out after four hours.’”

The outlet concluded, “the future of snow removal is probably diesel.”

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