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What’s fact or fiction with compact electric equipment?

October 24, 2022 -  By
Professionals say the idea that electric equipment can’t perform the same as diesel is a myth. (Photo: Dave Sept)

Professionals say the idea that electric equipment can’t perform the same as diesel is a myth. (Photo: Dave Sept)

There are many myths landscape professionals cite when discussing the future of electric compact equipment in the green industry. These include that performance and run time lag behind diesel hydraulic equipment.

Joel Honeyman, vice president of global innovation with Doosan Bobcat, says he has heard them all. He and Dave Sept, general manager of Golden Spruce Nurseries in Langley, B.C., Canada, help to separate beliefs about electric equipment into fact or fiction.

Less maintenance

Golden Spruce Nurseries demo’d Volvo’s L25 Electric Compact Wheel Loader last fall. Sept says he was impressed with how quiet the L25 was and how it fit into his operation. Golden Spruce Nurseries is awaiting delivery of its L25 this fall.

He estimates about 60 percent of the repair costs for his operation’s diesel skid-steers, tractors and wheel loaders involve the emission system.

“It’s either a DPF (diesel particulate filter) sensor or whatever the case might be, but it generally seems to have an impact on our operations,” he says. “The electric unit doesn’t have the same set of problems.”

He says while the cost for the electric compact wheel loader is higher than a diesel wheel loader, he sees many benefits to electric equipment.

“There are a lot less moving parts,” he says. “So our maintenance costs are down, our downtime is down, and we get the same productivity out of that product. In the long term, it will be a cost savings.”

More than a myth

Honeyman says landscape professionals cite a perceived lack of performance as a reason not to adopt electric compact equipment. He says with Bobcat’s new T7X electric compact track loader, what seems like more power is responsiveness.

“What we see with electric machines is our ability to provide instantaneous power at all times to that machine,” he says. “Electric can be instantaneous. Whereas with a diesel-hydraulic machine you have to idle up the engine and have the hydraulic pressure come up and you’ve lugged down the engine. It’s a cycle, it’s a wave, whereas, with electric, it’s on with full capability at any RPM.”

After taking a spin on the T7X, many pros who cite performance concerns change their tune, Honeyman says.
“I tell people, ‘You’ve got to drive it, don’t be a skeptic, go sit in the machine,’” he says. “We’ve yet to have a customer walk out of that machine saying, ‘No, I want my diesel hydraulic machine back.’”

Another myth Honeyman says he’s often heard is the lack of runtime with electric compact equipment. While the T7X boasts four hours of runtime, Honeyman says the key takeaway is that it’s four hours of continuous operational runtime. Using Bobcat’s telematics data, the team at Bobcat knows diesel compact equipment often sits idle for a third of its operational time. Instead, the electric compact equipment won’t consume power when it’s not in use.

“Most contractors are only actively using a diesel-hydraulic machine maybe only three to four hours a day on a site or two or three hours a day, of which a third of that time is at idle,” he says. “So, four hours of continuous time can really equate to an 8-to-10-hour operational day for the customer.”

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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