The Wacker Neuson lithium ion-powered mini excavator showing what it can do at the Hillhead exhibition in June. It is clean, quiet and as powerful as a diesel equivalent.
Earlier in the year, JCB introduced a lithium ion powered mini excavator (see report here). At the Hillhead exhibition of plant and machinery in Derbyshire last week, Wacker Neuson introduced another, although neither actually goes on sale until later in the year.
Wacker Neuson manufacturers construction equipment and was demonstrating its new range of lithium ion battery powered tracked and wheeled mini excavators and dumpers, rammers and plates (the rammers and plates and already on sale).
The excavators and dumpers are said to be as powerful as diesel engine machines but are extremely quiet in operation with no fumes from the engine, making them ideal for enclosed spaces and noise sensitive areas such as hospitals.
Battery-powered machines like this will also become increasingly common in city centres as councils declare urban areas diesel free zones. Oxford has already said it will require contractors to be diesel free by 2020.
The batteries can be charged on a 13A plug overnight, or more quickly with a higher ampage for topping up during lunch breaks. And the beauty of lithium ion is that the batteries have no 'memory', so topping them up does not gradually mean a reduction in the period they will continue to operate. They also do not run down. They are either delivering full power or none at all. The batteries are said to last for the lifetime of the machines, or in some cases as long as two or more machines.
There is a limit to the size of machine that can be battery powered before the power unit becomes too big and too expensive. But on minis, batteries look like having a big future.
Also on the Wacker Neuson stand was a DV60, a new dump truck unveiled at the exhibition. It is available in six, nine and 10 tonne versions. Its big attraction is that the driving position, with all the controls, swivels through 180deg, so the driver is still facing forwards when reversing.
It does not go into production until October but was an instant hit. "We've sold over 100 off the stand," said Wacker Neuson Managing Director Richard Harrison.
Wacker Neuson MD Richard Harrison with the new DV 60 dumper with a driving position that rotates through 180deg so the driver is still facing forward when reversing. It goes into production in October but Richard Harrison said: "We've sold over 100 off the stand."