Heavy construction equipment gets a jolt

Dive Brief:

  • Electrification has already come to America’s cars, trucks and semi-trailer trucks. Now, heavy construction equipment is making the transition over to electric power. Bobcat is among those taking the leap to electric.
  • The Bobcat T7X, an all-electric-compact track loader, is expected to begin shipping in 2023. It’s the first machine of its kind to eliminate all hydraulic components, which have been replaced with an electrical drive system that uses electric cylinders and electric drive motors, according to the company.
  • Additionally, Bobcat’s E32e, an electric compact excavator, will be available starting in August. Its E10E mini excavator is already sold in Europe and North America, but Joel Honeyman, vice president of global innovation at Bobcat, points out that it’s a battery powered, not an electric machine.

Dive Insight:

The electric off-highway equipment market is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2028, according to Global Market Insights, and much of the push toward cleaner machinery has to do with the environment. 

Many companies are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and diesel-powered equipment is a big polluter.  Battery powered replacements could reduce emissions by 59%, according to a report from the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University.

Electric equipment has become a business necessity due to “customers’ increasing need to decarbonize,” Erik Östgren, partner at McKinsey & Co., said in an email. Local U.S. governments now have climate mitigation and emissions reductions goals and Fortune 500 companies have also established “carbon neutral” initiatives, in part due to investor pressures. 

Electrified heavy duty equipment is also becoming less expensive to operate over time, even if up-front costs are often higher right now. 

“All else equal, prices of diesel will make the total cost of ownership case for electric equipment more favorable as savings from avoiding diesel usage will increase,” Östgren said.

In building construction, smaller electric equipment has long been used in sensitive locations, such as hospital renovations.

Honeyman said that the company has made specialized electrified equipment for decades. Now, he said, Tesla has made the idea of doing big work via electric power more mainstream.

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