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Latest Developments in All-Electric Utility Construction Machines

There’s a lot of media coverage around the rollout of new electric vehicle models. But there’s one EV category not grabbing headlines – yet it’s still critical to achieving a utility fleet’s sustainability goals: utility construction equipment.

All-electric machines eliminate emissions and allow crews to operate in noise-sensitive areas and outside of standard work hours. They offer operators a safer work environment with no exposure to diesel fumes.

So, what’s the latest in EV machines? Consider these new developments in three equipment categories – compact excavators, compact loaders and backhoes – that could help accelerate your fleet’s electrification efforts.

 

Compact Excavators

Volvo Construction Equipment
Model: EC18

Image courtesy of Volvo Construction Equipment

Overview: Volvo Construction Equipment announced in May that North American customers could begin reserving the 1.8-ton EC18 Electric compact excavator. The EC18 brings the Volvo CE electric lineup to five machines.

The EC18’s variable undercarriage retracts to fewer than 39 inches and expands to 53 inches. And the right frame corner, swing post and cylinder stay within the tracks’ width. This design reduces the risk of machine damage when working in confined spaces and alongside obstacles.

Fleet managers can track the machine’s real-time performance with Volvo’s Electric Machine Management Application. It provides remote status on battery level, charging, location and other important indicators.

Operating Time: Up to five hours.

Charging Time: The integrated onboard charger charges from zero to 100% in fewer than six hours. The company said that an optional off-board fast charger can charge up to 80% in under one hour.

Status: Reservations open. Deliveries begin in 2023.

 

CASE Construction Equipment
Model: CX15 EV

Image courtesy of CASE Construction Equipment

Overview: CASE Construction Equipment unveiled the CX15 EV electric mini excavator at the CNH Industrial Capital Markets Day event in February in Miami Beach, Florida.

The CX15 EV is a 2,900-pound mini excavator powered by a 16-kW electric motor. It features retractable tracks that shrink the machine’s width to about 31 inches for going through doors and working in tight spaces.

Operating Time: Up to eight hours.

Charging Time: CASE has not published the charging time for the machine’s 110/220-volt onboard charger. But the company said an external rapid charger can charge the machine within 90 minutes.

Status: Deliveries begin in 2023.

 

Bobcat Co.
Model: E32e

Image courtesy of Bobcat Co.

Overview: In May, Bobcat Co. unveiled its latest electric compact excavator: the E32e.

The 3.9-ton battery-powered excavator has a bucket digging force of 7,284 pound-feet and a drawbar pull of 7,815 pound-feet. It generates 5 psi of ground pressure and has a travel speed of up to 2.6 mph.

The E32e’s hydraulic pump has a flow capacity of 24.4 gallons per minute. Auxiliary flow is 16.8 gallons per minute at 2,987 psi. And the machine’s boom swing is 75 degrees left and 55 degrees right.

The E32e joins a growing lineup of Bobcat electric machines, including the E10e, its first electric compact excavator, announced in 2019, and its electric compact track loader, the T7X, unveiled earlier this year.

Bobcat plans to start delivering the E32e in July to Sunbelt Rentals locations where they will be available for rent.

Operating Time: Up to four hours of continuous operation. The company said the machine could work a full eight-hour day with intermittent use.

Charging Time: It takes eight hours to charge fully with a 240-volt outlet. The company has not published the charging time using an off-board fast charger.

Status: Deliveries begin July 2022.

 

JCB North America
Model: 19C-1E

Image courtesy of JCB North America

Overview: The JCB 19C-1E is the first machine in the new JCB E-TECH product lineup. JCB brought it to market in 2019, designing it for urban job sites, noise-sensitive environments and enclosed spaces.

The 19C-1E operates at just 86 decibels, quieter than some household appliances and significantly quieter than comparable diesel machines, allowing the operator to communicate easily with others on the work site, the company said.

To preserve battery charge, auto-idle reduces the engine speed when the machine is idle for a set time.

Operating Time: Up to five hours.

Charging Time: The 19C-1E offers three charging options: 110-volt, 10.5 hours charge time; 230-volt, five hours; and 415-volt, fewer than 2.5 hours.

Status: Production began in 2019.

 

Compact Loaders

Volvo Construction Equipment
Model: L20 Electric

Image courtesy of Volvo Construction Equipment

Overview: Volvo Construction Equipment introduced the L20 Electric compact loader in May.

The 9,921-pound machine features a 1.8-ton payload, a parallel-type linkage (Z-bar linkage optional) and a maximum dump height of 8 feet 2 inches. Volvo said the L20’s electric components reduce machine maintenance by 30%.

Additional features include an automatic park brake with hill-hold functionality and a range of customizable work modes. Rigid planetary axles with 100% differential locks increase traction and reduce tire wear, with an articulating-oscillating joint to enhance off-road capability and stability.

Operating Time: Up to six hours.

Charging Time: The onboard charger charges from zero to 100% in under six hours. The optional off-board fast charger can fully charge the L20 Electric in under two hours.

Status: Reservations open. Deliveries begin in 2023.

 

Bobcat Co.
Model: T7X

Image courtesy of Bobcat Co.

Overview: In January, the Bobcat T7X all-electric compact track loader debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The machine received two 2022 CES Innovation Awards in the “Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation” and “Smart Cities” categories.

Bobcat replaced the traditional hydraulic system with an electric drive system consisting of electric cylinders and electric drive motors. This means the machine operates on almost no fluids. In fact, the T7X uses less than 1 gallon of coolant compared to 57 gallons of fluid in its diesel-hydraulic equivalent model, the company said.

Bobcat will make the initial group of T7X electric compact track loaders available through Sunbelt Rentals later this year.

According to the Engineering News-Record, the initial T7X machines cost nearly three times that of a traditional model – at more than $200,000 each. But Joel Honeyman, Bobcat’s vice president of global innovation, said the price is likely to drop as the company expands its production of electric machines.

Operating Time: Up to four hours.

Charging Time: The charging time using the onboard charger is about 10 hours. The company has not published charging time using a fast charger.

Status: Deliveries begin July 2022.

 

Backhoes

CASE Construction Equipment
Model: 580 EV

Image courtesy of CASE Construction Equipment

Overview: CASE Construction Equipment unveiled “Project Zeus” – the all-electric CASE 580 EV backhoe loader – in 2020. It’s equipped with a 90-kWh lithium-ion battery to support an eight-hour workday in most applications.

The battery powers the drivetrain and hydraulic motors separately. This configuration generates hydraulic breakout forces equal to diesel-powered machines during simultaneous loader and drivetrain operation.

CASE estimates that the 580 EV can save fleets as much as 90% in annual vehicle service and maintenance costs. This number factors in eliminating diesel, engine oil and diesel exhaust fluid. It also accounts for the reduction in regular preventive and long-term engine maintenance – and the associated labor rates and time savings.

Operating Time: Up to eight hours.

Charging Time: It takes about eight hours to charge using a 220-volt connection. The company has not published charging time using a fast charger.

Status: Deliveries began in 2020.

 

John Deere
Model: 310 X-Tier E-Power Backhoe

Image courtesy of John Deere

Overview: John Deere introduced the 310 X-Tier E-Power electric excavator in 2021. The company said the machine will match the performance of its diesel-powered counterpart, the 310L backhoe loader.

The E-Power concept is still in its early stages with few details disclosed to date. Last year, the company announced a partnership with National Grid, a Northeast U.S. electric and natural gas utility, to test the machine.

Operating Time: Up to 10 hours.

Charging Time: The company has not announced charging times.

Status: Phase 2 testing begins this year.

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Sean M. Lyden

Sean M. Lyden is the editor of Utility Fleet Professional magazine.

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