What You Should Venture Into: Battery Vs Electric Vs Fuel Powered Construction Equipment
The diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) has been the power source of choice for heavy-duty construction equipment because it provides high levels of power and torque relative to weight and volume.
However, advancements in batteries and electric motors have allowed electric-powered construction equipment to catch up in power and torque.
Just as electric vehicle technology continues to advance for cars and trucks, electric construction equipment is poised to have a huge impact on the construction industry as well.
Electric Construction Vehicles Are Already on the Market
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are already rolling out a variety of electric construction vehicles for various applications.
For example, Volvo now offers a selection of electric compact equipment, including an excavator and a wheel loader. In addition, Bobcat has developed an electric/hydraulic excavator and loader, along with an all-electric loader. Caterpillar has introduced a battery-powered bulldozer, wheel loader, and mini excavator.
These and other OEMs are leading the development of additional electric construction equipment that meets the needs of operators and applications around the world.
A Growing Market for Electric Equipment
According to a 2019 study by 360 research reports, the worldwide market for electric vehicles for construction, agriculture, and mining is expected to increase by 51.3% between 2019 and 2024. The study predicts that by 2024, the market will be worth $2.27 billion.
A September 2020 report by Markets and Markets predicts a 22.8% grow electric construction vehicles between 2020 and 2025.
Many Factors Are Driving This Growth
Construction firms have already realized that using electric equipment instead of diesel-powered equipment enhances profits. A 2019 report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. showed how electric equipment often resulted in a 20% lower total cost of ownership than diesel.
Government emissions regulations and noise pollution restrictions are helping drive the electric construction equipment demand. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency limits new diesel engines to near-zero emissions levels for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, and rules in the European Union are even stricter.
Many electric construction vehicle OEMs have begun using lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are smaller, lighter, and 20% to 30% more efficient than lead-acid batteries. According to an article in OEM Off-Road, the newest battery technologies have reached a point at which electric equipment can have the same, eight-hour duty cycle as ICE equipment.
But charging remains a concern for many operators. Because many job sites are remote, access to electricity for recharging becomes an issue. To counter this, OEMs are beginning to integrate battery chargers into the equipment itself, so operators can charge them anywhere.
The Future of Electric Construction Equipment Is Here
A few decades ago, it was difficult to imagine an alternative to diesel-powered construction equipment. However, as electric vehicle and battery technology advances, the economics of using electric-powered construction equipment are starting to favor contractors.
In addition, regulatory trends are further incentivizing their adoption. Just as with automobiles and trucks, we can expect more and more adoption of electric construction vehicles in the future.
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