CASE reveals first fully electric backhoe loader

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 17 Mar 2020

US-headquartered construction equipment manufacturer, CASE Construction Equipment (CASE) has revealed ‘Project Zeus’ — the 580 EV (electric vehicle), which the company claims is construction industry’s first fully electric backhoe loader.

The power and performance of the 580 EV is said to be equivalent to other diesel-powered backhoes in its product line and provides considerably lower daily operating costs while also producing zero emissions. The electric backhoe loader will help city governments and municipalities reduce emissions for working in urban environments and reduce noise generated by the equipment.

CASE says it has sold two units to utility companies in the United States — NYSEG and RG&E, AVANGRID companies, and National Grid. They plan to produce additional units throughout 2020 before ramping up production to meet greater demand in the coming years.

Leandro Lecheta, head of construction equipment — North America, CNH Industrial said: “CASE built the very first factory-integrated backhoe loader in 1957 and has been at the forefront of backhoe innovation. The 580 EV is a significant step forward in our commitment to sustainability, the evolution of earthmoving equipment and truly practical innovation that drives real savings and competitive advantages for backhoe owners.”

Eric Zieser, director — global compact equipment product line, CASE said: “The backhoe loader is perfectly suited for electrification as the varied use cycles, from heavy to light work, provide an excellent opportunity to convert wasted diesel engine hours into zero consumption battery time — yet provide the operator with instantaneous torque response when needed. At low idle a diesel engine has reduced torque and requires time for the engine to ramp up to meet the load demands. Electric motors, on the other hand, have instantaneous torque and peak torque available at every operating speed.”

The 580 EV is the second major alternative-powered machine introduced by CASE — the manufacturer rolled out the FPT Industrial methane-powered concept wheel loader ProjectTETRA at Bauma 2019. The electrification project was performed in conjunction with Green Machine, Inc. and Moog, Inc, and with direct input from utilities and other businesses focused on converting significant portions of their fleets to fully electric backhoes. In addition, CASE has also partnered with Michelin to outfit the first-of-its-kind machine with specialised MICHELIN CrossGrip tyres for even greater efficiency and handling.

The 580 EV is powered by a 480-volt, 90-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged by any 220-volt/three-phase connection. While applications will vary, each charge will support most common eight-hour workdays. The battery separately powers the drivetrain and hydraulic motors, resulting in hydraulic breakout forces equal to diesel-powered machines and improved performance during simultaneous loader and drivetrain operation.

The company says while every application will be different based on its workload, it is estimated that the 580 EV could save fleets as much as 90 percent in annual vehicle service and maintenance costs when taking into account the reduction/elimination of diesel, engine oil, diesel exhaust fluid, regular preventive maintenance and long-term engine upkeep/maintenance (and the associated labor rates and time savings). On the other hand, while the 580 EV will be sold at a higher initial price than diesel-powered backhoe loaders, it is estimated that average fleets will see a payback on that premium in roughly five years. All savings achieved after that will go to improve the bottom line and continue to lower the operation’s carbon footprint. Each 580 EV also comes standard with CASE SiteWatch telematics for additional monitoring and management of machine performance and utilization.

Michelin CrossGrip tyres to match power and efficiency for Project Zeus
CASE says it has partnered with Michelin on tyres for two of its alternative-powered equipment solutions — the methane-powered ProjectTETRA wheel loader, and now the 580 EV backhoe loader. The 580 EV backhoe loader showcased at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 includes MICHELIN CrossGrip tyres that feature a non-directional tread design and provide exceptional handling, comfort and high-load capacity for operation on a variety of surface conditions from asphalt to snow.

Eric Zieser, “The Michelin CrossGrip tyres are great for general use with construction equipment, and offer great handling and reduced rolling resistance. Whether under full load or roading to a jobsite, these tyres will provide the optimal match of power and efficiency for an electric vehicle.”

The new Michelin CrossGrip is a multi-purpose radial tyre designed for use on the road, grass and snow. Using a special rubber compound, this four-season tyre is designed for high-load-capacity use on loaders, backhoes, telehandlers and tractors. The tyre has a patented, non-directional tread for excellent handling in both forward and reverse gears. With 196 tread blocks per wheel rotation, the tyre achieves driver comfort by reducing vibration. Asymmetrical lateral blocks help to provide good traction in winter conditions when short starting and stopping distances are imperative for safety. Reinforced for excellent puncture resistance, CrossGrip is designed to offer increased productivity and can be studded for ice usage.

Justin Brock, senior marketing manager, Michelin North America said: "We designed the CrossGrip tyre for year-round use — and backhoe loaders responding to utility or municipal demands require that level of availability and performance. Its unique design provides excellent reliability and traction, helping the industry's first fully electric backhoe loader road and operate even more effectively in all conditions. We are proud to outfit a first-of-its-kind machine with the first CrossGrip backhoe tyres — showcasing two great new technologies for the construction industry."

More electric vehicles in the offing
CASE says the 580 EV is its first formal entry into the electric equipment market and with its partnership with FPT Industrial, it will continue to explore additional solutions in electrification, alternative fuels and alternative propulsion systems for equipment across all product lines and industries that help achieve sustainability for all in the construction industry without sacrificing power and performance. These solutions it says will be introduced and brought to market as industry demand requires.

"We're proving the viability of electrification at the larger end of the compact and light equipment spectrum. Our goal now is to further expand electrification and alternative propulsion into other product lines and markets that will also see the benefits from these advances related to sustainability and performance," added Zieser.