Bobcat has ditched the internal combustion engine and conventional hydraulic system in its latest skid-steer loader – the all-electric T7X.
The battery-operated model is apparently more powerful that its diesel-fuelled forebears, emits no carbon emissions, and is significantly quieter, which will be a boon for companies working in areas sensitive to noise and air pollution.
Power is provided by a 62kW lithium-ion battery, which is rated for 2,000 cycles, and sourced from New York-based Green Machine Equipment – a specialist in battery powered industrial apparatus.
This is good for a maximum of four hours’ continuous work, with a so-called “power management system” sensing when loads decrease to back off the power and preserve energy to extend the runtime.
See also: On test: JCB’s debut battery-electric Loadall – the 525-60E
Working in eco-mode will also help to save battery life – something that’s worth bearing in mind given the 10-hour charging time.
The hydraulic arrangement seen in the T76 diesel equivalent has been replaced by an electric drive system, which has eliminated the need for fluids – aside from just one litre of coolant.
Though they are based on almost the same chassis, the electric T7X weighs 5,528kg, making it just shy of 500kg heavier than the diesel T76.
In terms of performance, it has a lift capacity of up to 1,374kg, which Bobcat says actually outperforms the T76.
Top speed is a modest 14kph but, says Bobcat, the advantage of electric is instant power and torque, giving snappy performance without having the engine revving. It’s apparently 85% quieter, too.
One catch might be the price, with the T7X coming in at roughly three times that of its diesel counterpart.
It is currently only available in North America while Bobcat gauges demand in the European market.
Though it might be the first compact tracked machine to be battery-powered, Bobcat was beaten in the skid-steer market by little-known Slovakian firm Kovaco.
Its Elise 900 runs from a 240Ah battery as standard and delivers an output of roughly 40hp for up to six hours on a single charge. This can be upgraded to 400Ah for up to eight hours runtime.
It has a top travel speed of 13kph, a regular hydraulic system with a 65 litres/min oil flow, and a 900kg load capacity.