The electric revolution in heavy equipment continues to move forward. The latest offering comes from Caterpillar and its new electric drive 988K XE wheel loader. It uses what Cat calls its switched reluctance technology. The wheel loader still has its C18 engine, mechanical drop box, driveline, and axles. In the 988K XE, the engine is connected to a generator that powers an electric motor through a control module.
With the electric drive, the wheel loader increases efficiency by 25% overall and by up to 49% in face-loading applications, as compared to the 988K. At the same time, Caterpillar production studies report the new loader delivers up to 10% higher productivity in load-and-carry applications.
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There are also a number of other advantages that Caterpillar cites, including lower maintenance costs, increased engine life expectancy, cab improvements, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced carbon footprint.
Here are a couple of videos from Cat that detail the 988K XE:
The drive for cleaner, more efficient, and more productive iron will rely heavily on electric generator and battery technology. Keep your eye out for more and more electric and/or hybrid innovations showing up in construction equipment of all shapes and sizes.