The proliferation of electric compact excavators might seem like a distant reality, but it is closer than it looks. Despite COVID interruptions, more and more manufacturers are shifting their focus to electric equipment. There are many reasons why this trend continues to grow unhinged, with no sign of slowing. Tightening emissions standards is a prime reason interest in battery-powered equipment has increased. With the current administration’s focus on the environment, we fully expect these standards to become more rigid.
Electric machines also offer some desperately needed solutions, including reducing noise and safely working indoors. As areas become more populated, noise restrictions have become a real concern and have made it more difficult for contractors to work regular hours. Battery-powered machines are nearly silent, allowing contractors to work in occupied spaces and highly populated areas.
Currently, the electric compact excavator (1.5- to 2-ton) is the most sought-after battery-powered construction machine, making it the central focus of many manufacturers. During the last quarter of 2020, we introduced the CMX18 (1.5-ton), our fully battery-powered compact excavator, and almost immediately, there was a waitlist.
Despite increasing demand, electric equipment is still a small portion of the construction vehicles that are currently in use. Often seen as serving a specific need, many don’t consider the lower fuel and maintenance costs. The lower lifetime costs often make owning battery-powered equipment a much more sensible decision. As start-up costs for these machines continue to decrease, the demand will continue to rise.
Despite all the advantages, there are still some obvious limitations with battery-powered machines. Battery technology is quickly advancing but not fast enough–charging time and capacity issues can make it difficult for some contractors to consider replacing diesel machines with electric equipment.
The good news is that battery technology is moving full speed ahead, making the future of electric construction equipment bright.