Volvo CE shows off electric compact excavator prototype

Zero-emission, low noise research project unveiled at Volvo Group Innovation Summit points the way to energy efficient future of construction equipment


Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has unveiled its latest 100% electric compact excavator prototype – the EX2 – at the Volvo Group Innovation Summit held earlier this month.

The concept machine delivers zero emissions, 10 times higher efficiency, 10 times lower noise levels and reduced total cost of ownership compared to its conventional counterparts, and is believed to be the world’s first fully electric compact excavator prototype, according to a statement from the company.

The EX2 was presented at the Volvo Group Innovation Summit in London alongside innovations from across the Volvo Group, including an autonomous refuse truck from Volvo Trucks and an electric bus from Volvo Buses. The innovation summit centred on infrastructure and transport in cities of the future, and focused on how the industry can have a positive impact on society through increased transport efficiency, reduced environmental impact and improved traffic safety.

The Volvo Group defines electromobility as ‘commercial vehicles and machines that can utilise an electrical motor to propel or to perform the main purpose of the machine’. The company’s statement said that to make the EX2 prototype fully electric, the combustion engine has been replaced with two lithium ion batteries, totalling 38KWh, which store enough electric energy to operate the machine for eight hours in intense applications, such as digging compact ground.

The hydraulic architecture has also been replaced with electric architecture, which incorporates electromechanical linear actuators that help to optimise the transmission chain. Volvo CE added that removing the hydraulic system and the combustion engine, as well as reducing the cooling needs, has led to significantly lower noise levels.

The EX2 stemmed from the company’s earlier ELEXC research project, which was partly financed by the French government as well as various funding bodies in France. Volvo CE said it worked with a team of six partner companies which all contributed towards the $7.78m project. The ELEXC work started in 2012 and concluded in 2015; Volvo CE has since been working on other research projects connected to the EX2, such as durability tests.

“The electrification of construction equipment will produce cleaner, quieter and more efficient machines – this represents the future of our industry,” said Ahcène Nedjimi, electrics and electronics systems lead engineer and EX2 project leader.

“The EX2 is a revolutionary machine. With its zero emissions and 10 times lower noise levels, it could easily be used in densely populated areas without disturbing people – even at night. Ten times higher machine efficiency and maintenance-free systems mean that operating costs and total cost of ownership would be significantly reduced. The prototype machine delivers the same power and force as its conventional counterpart, as well as faster speeds in combined movements. And all of this has been achieved without compromising on machine performance, ensuring customer needs would be fulfilled.”

Volvo CE said it does not have plans yet to industrialise the EX2, which is a research project at present.


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