Electric Avenue08 January 2020

Global warming concerns have been reignited across the world. In the mobile plant sector, companies are starting to rock down to Electric Avenue to help tackle such problems, among others. Highlights of some latest efforts follows


JCB went into full production with its fully-electric 19C-1E mini excavator in August. The models, which are developed at JCB Compact Products in Cheadle, Staffordshire, have been delivered to more than 50 companies so far, including equipment rental company A-Plant, which has invested in a fleet of 10 of the electric machines.

JCB says that the 19C-1E model is five times quieter than its diesel counterpart. It can also be fully-charged in under two hours, and when fully-charged, it can put in a typical full day’s shift for a mini excavator. The machine also comes with JCB’s LiveLink telematics as standard, and is said to be ideal for working both indoors and outdoors, in factories, tunnels or basements, for digging foundations, or on utility projects.

More recently, Electricity North West, a provider of power to five million people, has invested in two of the electric mini excavators to help maintain 44,000 kilometres of underground cables. The investment is part of a multi-million-pound initiative to drive down its carbon emissions.

Steve Cox, engineering and technical director at Electricity North West, says: “Our team finds [the electric excavators] more powerful than diesel diggers and another major positive is the reduced noise levels. Power cuts can happen at any time of the day and night and sometimes we’re required to dig up roads and footpaths to repair faults. Using the new electric diggers, which have reduced noise levels, means we can work into the night without impacting our customers.”


At agricultural trade show Agritechnica in November, John Deere demonstrated a range of different product developments and research projects in the fields of electrification, autonomy through automation and artificial intelligence, with the aim of showing how agriculture could work even more sustainably and productively in the future.

Under the electrification banner, the company highlighted its zero-emission compact utility tractor. The electric compact tractor is based on the John Deere 1 Series. The firm says that a key feature is the machines’ high PTO power, allowing more than 10,000m² of lawn to be mowed with one battery charge, lasting 4.5 hours. In addition to high-performance, customers are said to benefit from very low maintenance costs.

Meanwhile, under the autonomy through automation banner, was its autonomous electric tractor. John Deere says that the new autonomous tractor concept is a compact electric drive unit with integrated attachment. The tractor has a total output of 500kW and can be equipped with either wheels or tracks. Flexible ballasting from five to 15 tonnes is possible, depending on the application, to help reduce soil compaction. There are no operating emissions and noise levels are extremely low thanks to the electric drive, it adds, with further advantages include low wear and maintenance costs.


Kalmar (part of Cargotec) is collaborating with drive and control technologies supplier Bosch Rexroth to develop fully-electric versions of its reachstacker and heavy forklift solutions. Seppo Heino, VP for counterbalanced container handling at Kalmar, says that the company “firmly” believes that “electricity is the power source of the future”.

Kalmar already has a portfolio of fully electric equipment, including light and medium forklift trucks, Kalmar Ottawa terminal tractors, shuttle and straddle carriers, automated guided vehicles and yard cranes. The new fully-electric machines are both due for launch in 2021.

Matthias Kielbassa, project director for off-highway electrification at Bosch Rexroth, adds: “We have made a strong, strategic commitment to extend our portfolio towards solutions for electrified mobile working machines. We are looking forward to our collaboration with Kalmar to provide best-in-class solutions for their next generation of mobile equipment.”


Volvo Construction Equipment’s (CE’s) first electric compact excavator – the ECR25 Electric – has been delivered to French contractor Spac (part of the Colas Group) for a customer trial phase. The 2.5-tonne excavator was unveiled at construction machinery trade show Bauma 2019, with Spac now using it to dig trenches at the Saint-Nom-la Bretèche golf course, just outside of Paris, France.

With zero exhaust emissions and almost silent operation, the Volvo ECR25 Electric is perfect for such environments, Volvo CE says. The model replaces a combustion engine with 48-volt lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor that powers the hydraulics to move the machine and attachments. The batteries store enough energy to power the machine for eight hours in typical applications, such as utility work. An onboard charger also enables overnight charging via a regular household plug socket.

“It’s exciting for us to see this machine at a client’s construction site,” says Elodie Guyot, electric compact excavator project manager for Volvo CE. “It’s in a very quiet and peaceful area where residents want that quietness and peacefulness to be respected, so it’s crucial to have a machine that meets this need.” The ECR25 Electric will be available in selected markets from mid-2020.


In another trial, tree farm and landscaping company Leick Baumschulen is testing the first L25 Electric compact wheel loader from Volvo CE. Based 30 minutes from the Volvo CE factory in Konz, Germany, Leick Baumschulen is the first customer to test the new ‘green’ machine.

Having already invested in electric golf carts to show customers around its large yard and display area, Leick Baumschulen wanted to explore the advantages of electrification for its fleet of construction equipment too. The Volvo L25 Electric is powered by lithium-ion batteries that cover an eight-hour working shift with one single charge in the machine’s regular applications, which include light infrastructure work, gardening, landscaping and agriculture. The L25 also incorporates two dedicated electric motors – one for the drivetrain and one of the hydraulics. Decoupling the sub-systems has led to higher efficiency across the entire machine.

“The machine operates like a conventional wheel loader, but with improved comfort for the driver and surroundings – it feels similar when it comes to power but is quieter, has less vibration, less maintenance and is emission-free locally,” says Christoph Leick, co-owner of Leick Baumschulen. The Volvo L25 Electric compact wheel loader will be available for general sale from mid-2020, when Volvo CE will stop the development of new diesel engine-based L20 to L28 compact wheel loader models.


Nice-Côte d’Azur airport, located southwest of Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes départment of France, has put 100% electric Mercedes eCitaro buses into service, according to Ground Handling International. Transdev Alpes-Maritimes was selected by the airport to transport passengers on board these shuttles. With a range of 160 km, the three shuttles will be able to run for around eight hours.

John Deere has launched its first commercial electric battery-powered walk-behind rotary mower. The PRO 43B not only produces zero emissions, but is said to offer intuitive handling, fast charging and a high level of operator comfort. It is designed to enable professional users to easily cut smaller grass areas and clean up edges in public spaces, without the disturbance and nuisance caused by noise and fumes. It will be sold with a two-year warranty (one year on the batteries), and will be available from UK/Irish dealers in 2020.

Sheffield City Council and Westminster City Council are trialling electric bin lorries – two each – that are powered by the very waste that they have collected (pictured, below). The project will see the vehicles put into service with an R&D scheme conducted over two years to fully test the vehicles for durability, performance and cost effectiveness. The lorries, which would have been destined for the scarp yard, have been re-fitted to be powered by battery, using a system that has been designed, manufactured and fitted by electric vehicle drive systems supplier Magtec.

Adam Offord

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