Going Green With Mario’s Towing

by Sarah Bruce

A British Columbia towing company is changing the industry’s image by adding a hybrid tow truck to their fleet.

Originally published in Tow Canada, July-August 2020

In a time when towers everywhere are working to elevate the level of professionalism in the industry, introducing a hybrid tow truck is just one way Mario’s Towing is doing their part to better industry and go green.

“We are trying to be less detrimental to the environment with what we do,” said Nic Moretto, general manager for Mario’s Towing. “Towing is viewed as big trucks, exhaust in the air, grease—you know the story—so people like seeing a clean truck show up and our efforts toward improving the climate.”

With a large fleet servicing southern British Columbia, Mario’s Towing is seen as a leader and, as Nic explained, they are always trying to identify new ways to improve business.

Manufactured by Hino, the truck has a diesel-electric hybrid system and custom towing deck. It is designed so that the engine shuts off when the truck comes to a complete stop, which means zero emissions while idling. Once the driver’s foot comes off the brake, it starts back up again and, using the battery, takes off with power assist.

“Customers love it,” Nic said. “The best part of all this is the acceptance and people are so appreciative that we care. We live in a beautiful country so let’s try to not just beat up on it like we’ve all grown accustomed to because it’s all we know.”

Considering hybrid technology has been out for more than two decades, Nic said he is surprised that hybrid trucks are not more common. “I asked the gentleman that we bought it from, ‘You must have sold a lot of these,’ because it just makes sense, but he said, ‘Well, no, we’ve actually never sold a hybrid from our dealership.’” Nic hopes that more people look into purchasing them in the future. He predicts they will become more commonplace in the next five to ten years. “It’s just a matter of getting the confidence to put it on the road.

“We become programmed as consumers to stick with the trusted, proven things and so taking a chance on something [new] can really hurt a business, but as hybrid technology has become more prevalent I think it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Nic said. “People can be pretty resistant to change and lack creativity when it comes to planning so we were lucky that everyone came together and had a plan and it went from there. It makes you smile when you see it going down the road because you know it took effort to put it there.”

In fact, the team at Mario’s Towing is so impressed with the technology, they have already put their order in for a couple more and with some manufacturers planning for an all-electric platform, they’re looking forward to adding more green vehicles to their fleet.

“Everybody’s argument is going to be, ‘oh, well, your weight capacity is going to be less’ and yeah, it is, but we aren’t double-loading it and we don’t have a wheel-lift on it,” Nic said. “There are some limitations to it but in the city, the turning radius and visibility are fantastic and, obviously, the fuel economy is great. Also, they come with fantastic warranties. So even if there are some limitations I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.”

When it came to designing the exterior of the truck, they were looking for something bright but also a way to show their support to front line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been annual participants in the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and community charity work in the last few years, so when [the dealer] put together the decal package, we thought it would be a good opportunity to give a shout out to front line workers. The idea of this truck is bigger than us, and in a time when people are risking their lives facing this pandemic, we wanted to do something to say thanks. “It’s a bright little truck for a good cause.”

Photos: Sarah Bruce