Volvo testing first large electric excavator
Taking the next step to battery power for its machine line-up, Volvo Construction Equipment has electrified its first large crawler excavator as a customer pilot. Designed and built at the Volvo facilities in Changwon, South Korea, the 22-metric-ton EC230 electric excavator, which is not yet commercially available, has been tested by customers in South Korea and China. Now the EC230 E machines are due to come to North America for demos.
Remi Teysseire, excavator product manager, discussed some of the high points of the EC230 at the recent Volvo Days event. During his presentation, he said it offers the same features as the EC220, the diesel-powered conventional excavator in the same size class.
“We can bring the same tool size. We have the same digging forces, the same lifting capacities with the added value to having less noise and zero emissions,” Teysseire said.
With its battery power, the excavator is expected to achieve a 60 to 70 per cent reduction in energy running costs compared to the EC220. Teysseire said the EC230 E is equipped with four 66-kilowatt lithium-ion battery packs that enable the operator to work four to five hours in general purpose applications. With a high-power fast charge on a lunch hour, the machine should last through a full eight-hour shift.
He said Volvo is working on various power supply options for job sites, including a faster charger and onboard chargers, which some of the machines are already equipped with.
Hydraulic pumps are identical to those for the EC220, providing the same performance, except they are now driven by an electric motor. “We are consuming electricity only when the operator needs to work with the machine,” Teysseire said. “In other words, the idle time is gone.”
The EC230 E marks the first time Volvo CE has developed electric customer pilot machines for China. These excavators are not commercially available yet, but during this research phase, Volvo CE aims to mature them quickly so that they can be commercialized as soon as possible. The machine was first showcased at bauma China 2020.
“China is the largest electromobility market globally and a leading producer of electromobility components, which provides the demand and means to manufacture a machine locally,” said Mats Sköldberg, head of technology at Volvo CE China. “In addition, China has an industrial strategy to decrease dependence on diesel and so the electromobility market is expected to move quickly. These factors make China the perfect place to test our new machines and gain valuable customer feedback.”
Earlier this year, Volvo CE opened orders for its newest electric machines, the L20 electric compact wheel loader and the EC18 and ECR18 electric compact excavators. Deliveries of the three newest models to North American customers will begin in 2023.