Electric cars are not the future – they are already here. And their numbers on the streets will increase drastically as many countries are preparing to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines. However, heavy equipment is not quick to follow as the power demands in these machines are huge. Now Honda and Komatsu announced a collaboration to develop electrified micro excavators, which showcase a clever solution to charging.
Electrified Komatsu PC01 micro excavator is coming in 2022. Image credit: Honda
Someday, hopefully, all internal combustion engines will be replaced with electric powertrains. However heavy equipment needs a high duty cycle, which kind of prevents that. They need to work continuously with short breaks. Not to mention that huge excavators, trucks and loaders use a lot of energy. They would go through batteries very quickly and couldn’t afford standing stationary charging them.
And that’s why Honda and Komatsu are developing electrified micro excavators that use swappable Mobile Power Pack batteries. Essentially this means that batteries of these machines can be taken out to be charged. This eliminates the need for long stops, because all you need to do is slot a fresh battery in. Honda and Komatsu hope to prove to the industry that it is possible in the first place.
Electrified micro excavators have many advantages. Of course, they are environmentally friendly, but that is not all. These tiny excavators often work indoors – that is their biggest advantage over slightly larger machines. And indoors it is very important to keep the air clean – being electric these machines will not contaminate the air, creating a nicer and safer working environment for everyone. Furthermore, they work completely quietly, which is also a huge advantage in busy job sites. Finally, maintenance should be easier as well, as electric machines do not need oil changes.
Swappable batteries will make the electric Komatsu PC01 micro excavator a very versatile and easily maintained machine. Image credit: Honda
Honda and Komatsu will be working on an electric Komatsu PC01 micro excavator. It will be equipped with Honda MPPs and an electrified power unit (eGX). Because of its minute size, PC01 often works close to people, plants and various materials that need protection from unpleasant smells and toxic fumes. Electrified Komatsu PC01 micro excavator should be introduced before the March 31, 2022.
Hopefully, micro excavators are only the first humble step. The same idea with bigger batteries could be employed in larger machines. It may not be the ideal solution, but it is at least some sort of movement towards cleaner industries. At least they are showing that it is possible to have heavy equipment (although quite small) battery-powered and without the obvious disadvantage of long charging times.
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