Mini excavators are one of the quickest growing equipment types, with the machine’s popularity seemingly ever-increasing. According to data from Off-Highway Research, global sales for the mini excavator were at their highest point ever last year, at over 300,000 units.
The major markets for mini excavators have traditionally been developed countries, such as Japan and those in Western Europe, but the last decade has seen their popularity rise in many emerging economies. Most notable of these is China, which is now by far the biggest mini excavator market in the world.
Considering that mini excavators essentially replace manual labour, this is perhaps a surprising turnaround in the most populous country in the world where there is certainly no shortage of workers. Although all is perhaps not as it seems in the Chinese market – see the box out ‘China and mini excavators’ for more details.
One of the reasons for the mini excavator’s popularity is that it is easier to power a smaller and more compact machine with electricity rather than the traditional diesel power. It is the case that, especially in city centres of developed economies, there are often strict regulations regarding noise and emissions pollution.
There is no shortage of OEMs that are currently working on, or have released electric mini excavators – back in January 2019 Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) announced that, by mid-2020, it will begin to launch a range of electric compact excavators (EC15 to EC27) and wheeled loaders (L20 to L28) and stop new diesel engine-based development of these models.
Another OEM looking at electric power for this equipment segment is JCB, with the company’s 19C-1E electric mini excavators. The JCB 19C-1E is powered by four lithium-ion batteries, providing 20kWh of energy storage. This is enough for a full working shift for the majority of mini excavator customers on a single charge. The 19C-1E itself is a powerful, compact model with zero exhaust emissions at point of use and one that is considerably quieter than a standard machine.
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