Will plant machinery ever be fully electric?

It’s predicted that, by 2040, all new cars will be entirely electric. And, in line with this, more and more plant machinery manufacturers are leaning towards this eco-friendly version of power for their vehicles. Over the past years, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has put in many restrictions that reduce the use of diesel in construction – particularly in limiting the level of emissions they are permitted to release during use. But will plant machinery ever be fully electric?

What are the most current restrictions

At the end of 2019, new emissions rules kicked in which required non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) such as forklifts, mobile cranes and bulldozers, to comply with stage V. This means they must be able to filter out more harmful gases, including nitrous oxide. For those working within central London and the Ultra Low Emission Zone, failure to comply will result in extensive fines and financial implications.

Where are we now?

With the responsibility for up to 11% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions, companies are stepping up with new releases. In 2016, Bobcat unveiled the E10e electric mini excavator which can run for 8 hours and takes just 2 ½ hours to charge. Volvo CE released the EX2 in 2017 as their first-ever all-electric compact excavator. It uses lithium-ion batteries, allowing it to operate for up to 8 hours and means it is 10x as efficient as the diesel alternative. JCB followed suit in 2018 with the 19C-1 E-Tec all-electric excavator which can run for 6 hours and delivers 15kWh of power.

More and more, we’re seeing the leading names in our industry refocus their development technology to creating machines that will work in this low-emissions environment.

What is the future

These restrictions may be set more strictly within our country’s capital for now, but the drive to reduce emissions across the country is increasing. To date, most of the electric plant machinery models on the market are mini or compact. Businesses are likely to begin focusing on the larger models, taking into account AI technology, electric actuators and power management systems to ensure they can still work to the same capacity. We expect to see an increase in this drive for eco-friendly machines, in like with the usage of technology that improves productivity for everyone.

What do you think? Are you expecting to see all-electric construction sites within the next 20 years? Let us know in the comments.