Bobcat Taking Initial Electrification Steps
By Mike Osenga05 October 2020
Compact excavators and track loaders first machines to be evaluated
Partnership with Green Machine first step
Doosan Bobcat North America, the well-known West Fargo, ND manufacturer of compact off-highway machines, is taking its initial step into the world of electrification.
It is actually a two-step approach to sizing up the potential for electric drives for Bobcat equipment, initially with select compact excavators and compact track loaders.
The first step finds Doosan Bobcat entering into a partnership with Green Machine Equipment, Inc., Buffalo, NY, to produce electric Bobcat compact excavators.
Green Machine will custom retrofit four Bobcat excavator models with its proprietary battery and battery management technology to replace the diesel power source. Green Machine will sell the converted machines in select markets beginning in 2021, said Joel Honeyman, vice president of Global Innovation at Doosan Bobcat.
“We viewed Green Machine as a way for us to enter the electrification market with our current equipment, converted over to electric. With this agreement we have a partner that is able to provide that expertise,” Honeyman said.
Four Compact Excavators
The program, which currently covers select North American markets, will include four Bobcat compact excavator models, the E10, E20, E35, and E50. The four machines range from the 10 hp/2593 lb. operating weight model E10 to the 50 hp/11,357 lb. E50. “These models provide us with a good platform and a good model mix with the compact excavator line,” Honeyman said.
The second step is somewhat further from going to market. At ConExpo-Con/Agg earlier this year, Doosan Bobcat showed an all-electric model of its 74 hp T76 compact track loader. Honeyman said the electric T76 is more of a concept vehicle.
“In this case, there are no hydraulics. We took all the hydraulics off and are using electric motors,” Honeyman said. He added that Green Machine is also providing the battery and the battery management systems for that program as well. “It is a concept vehicle, more in the development phase. But we are actively working on loaders as well as excavators.”
With the four compact excavators, Green Machine will take current Bobcat models, remove the engines, and install its battery and battery management systems at its Buffalo operations. Green Machine will also source and install the electric motors to drive the hydraulics.
The resulting machines will be sold by Green Machine but will be Bobcat-branded.
Founded in 2010, Green Machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of alternative energy company Viridi Parente, Inc. Viridi Parente manufactures battery packs that the company said are being used in an array of markets. The company said it uses lithium-ion cell technology, pared with its System Intelligence battery management system.
About Green Machine
Green Machine has converted and rented, sold, or leased other types of electric drive compact construction equipment both under its own brand name, as well as having custom, low volume development programs with other equipment OEMs. Currently the Green Machine line includes two models of electric compact excavators, an electric mini-skid-steer loader, an electric light tower and a mini-backhoe loader.
Green Machine, in collaboration with WhisperDrive, uses a proprietary lithium-ion battery technology. For its own machines,
the company lists 12.8 kWh, 14 kW and 56 kW lithium-ion battery packs as the power source.
Honeyman refers to the Bobcat partnership with Green Machine as a limited launch initiative. “We’re going to go into select markets where there have been requests by customers and there has been interest in this kind of technology. Whether that’s working indoors, on job sites where noise is an issue, or where people are more environmentally conscious and are looking for an electric machine,” he said.
“We have had a number of conversations with large contractors and utilities that are very interested in this technology. So those are the ones we’re going to work with in select markets.”
“Everyone has questions,” he said. “Does it perform the same as a diesel machine? What are the reliability characteristics? How long does the battery last? You have to sit in and operate the machine to experience it.”
From there, Honeyman said, as this potentially ramps up over the next year or two, Bobcat would look at how it would scale up production of the electric machines in its own facilities.
“Part of this is a learning process for our dealers and customers. It’s a new type of product, so starting on a smaller scale really helps us to do this. At some point we will produce a diesel version of the product and an electric version. The question is, when do you do that, and how do you do that, within the current platforms and facilities.”