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New Electric-Powered Excavators Show Continued Industry Momentum Toward Electrification

March 8, 2022
CASE Construction Equipment has previewed its new battery-electric mini excavator, while Doosan has developed two fully electric excavators powered by technology from Danfoss’ Editron.

Electrification continues to grow in the construction and other heavy-duty equipment markets. There are many reasons for this, including improvements in technology and a desire for companies (as well as their customers) to be seen as more sustainable.

Emissions reduction efforts around the world are a key driver for the push toward electrification, particularly in heavy duty equipment operations. This is because of the amount of emissions produced by machinery such as construction and agriculture equipment.

The United Nations has reported the construction industry alone accounts for 23% of carbon dioxide emissions globally. About 6% of this comes from the equipment used on job sites, making the move toward diesel alternatives a key step in improving global air quality.

Several countries around the world have also begun implementing restrictions on the use of diesel- and gas-powered engines in an effort to reduce emissions. Oslo, Helsinki, Amsterdam and London are some of the cities which have set targets for zero-emission construction sites.

Advancements in electric equipment designs will help to ensure emissions-reduction targets can be achieved while still enabling the use of construction and other heavy machinery.

CASE Previews New Battery-Electric Mini Excavator

During CNH Industrial’s Capital Markets Day held in February 2022, its CASE Construction Equipment brand provided the first look at the new CASE CX15 EV mini excavator. This battery-powered machine will be part of an expanded line of mini excavators while also adding to the company’s electrification offering.

The CX15 EV is a 2,900 lb. machine powered by a 16-kW electric motor and 21.5-kWh lithium-ion battery. An on-board 110V/220V charger or external rapid charger can be used to charge the mini excavator’s battery, typically within 90 min., states CASE. The electric excavator is designed to provide power for a full eight-hour workday, depending on the application.

A load-sensing hydraulic system is utilized on the mini excavator to provide smooth and powerful operation. CASE says this system also allows operators to adjust the machine exactly to the task at hand.

Retractable tracks are included on the CX15 EV, as well, to help reduce the width of the machine to about 31 in. This enables it to better fit into confined spaces and through doorways. One of the many advantages of electric powered machines is their ability to be used indoors because of their lack of emissions and reduced noise; enabling the CX15 EV to easily fit through doorways will benefit those with indoor construction projects.

“From reduced emissions to noise reduction and lower lifetime fuel and maintenance costs, the CASE CX15 EV will be a powerful, efficient and sustainable addition to our mini excavator lineup,” said Brad Stemper, head of construction equipment product management — North America, CASE, in the company’s press statement about the CX15 EV. “This machine is the next step in our electrification journey—and we are committed to bringing the industry a complementary portfolio of diesel and electric equipment to meet the needs of the broadest range of applications and operations.”

CASE introduced its first electric-powered machine, the 580 EV—also known as Project Zeus—in March 2020. Considered the industry’s first fully electric backhoe loader, the 580 EV provides equivalent performance as diesel-powered machines. It is currently working in the field with customers.

The 2022 Capital Markets Day event was the first held by CNH since its recent spin off from IVECO to become a company solely focused on developing construction and agriculture equipment. During the event, CNH laid out its updated business strategy for the company, which includes further investment in electrification as well as alternative fuels. CNH intends to use innovation synergies across its product lines to help achieve these efforts.

CASE plans to bring the CX15 EV to the North American market in 2023.

Danfoss Editron Helps Drive Doosan Electric Excavators 

Danfoss’ Editron—the division of Danfoss Power Solutions specializing in hybrid and electric powertrain systems—recently worked together with Doosan to provide components for two new fully-electric excavators. Danfoss products were supplied by Electrauvision, a division of Danfoss’ partner Hydrauvison, to Electric Construction Equipment (ECE), which has a license agreement with Doosan to modify its equipment for European dealers.

The new 16-ton wheeled excavator and 30-ton crawler excavator feature an electric powertrain in place of the diesel engines typically used to power these machines. Included in the electric powertrain are several Danfoss components, including a permanent magnet motor from Danfoss’ Editron division. A Danfoss controller is used to for control of the powertrain system while a display in the operator cab is run using Danfoss’ PLUS+1 software platform.

Both excavators include an exchange battery swapping system which utilizes an electric powerbox to power the drivetrain. The powerbox is also controlled by a Danfoss controller and features an independent climate control system to ensure optimal operating conditions for the excavators’ batteries.

“Wheeled excavators are traditionally built with a diesel engine, so converting them to a zero-emission machine required two main aspects: the replacement of the diesel engine and the machine’s energy supply,” said Brenno de Zwart, CEO of Hydrauvision. “Using a swappable powerbox for the energy supply, which can be charged at another location or even by the machine itself, is pioneering for the construction industry. The powerbox also has further applications, including that it can be used for DC charging, thanks to the independent climate control system.”

Danfoss was chosen to provide many of the excavators’ components “due to our excellent technical support and efficient supply chain, which helped realize the ambitious building program,” said Antti Väyrynen, director of Off-Highway for Danfoss’ Editron division, in a press release from the company announcing the partnership. “Our permanent magnet motors also offer a torque characteristic that perfectly matches the requirement for the machines.”

Doosan delivered the first electric excavators at the end of 2021, which are currently operating in the Netherlands and Norway. The company is taking more orders for the excavators and plans to put more fully electric machines into production, including 20 30-ton crawlers and 40 16-ton wheeled models.

“We’re proud to be delivering this innovative machinery, built using sustainable techniques and materials to minimize their carbon footprint, to customers and dealers across Europe. We’ve also performed the homologation and certification of the machines and the powerbox technology according to the most recent European regulations,” said Pieter Staadegaard, CEO of ECE.

ECE also has plans to develop a 200-kW electric tractor and 17-ton electric wheel loader based on the same electric powerbox technology used in the Doosan excavators.

About the Author

Sara Jensen | Executive Editor, Power & Motion

Sara Jensen is executive editor of Power & Motion, directing expanded coverage into the modern fluid power space, as well as mechatronic and smart technologies. She has over 15 years of publishing experience. Prior to Power & Motion she spent 11 years with a trade publication for engineers of heavy-duty equipment, the last 3 of which were as the editor and brand lead. Over the course of her time in the B2B industry, Sara has gained an extensive knowledge of various heavy-duty equipment industries — including construction, agriculture, mining and on-road trucks —along with the systems and market trends which impact them such as fluid power and electronic motion control technologies. 

You can follow Sara and Power & Motion via the following social media handles:

X (formerly Twitter): @TechnlgyEditor and @PowerMotionTech

LinkedIn: @SaraJensen and @Power&Motion

Facebook: @PowerMotionTech

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