Hyundai unveils compact electric excavator prototype at ConExpo 2020
The 2-ton-class R18E prototype is Hyundai’s first electric-powered compact excavator and is designed for use both indoors and in urban settings. (Shuttleworth)

Hyundai reveals compact electric excavator prototype

Prototype revealed at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 is a 2-ton-class machine designed for use both indoors and in urban settings.

Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas (HCEA) demonstrated a working prototype of its electric-powered compact excavator at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 in Las Vegas, March 10-14. The R18E would be Hyundai’s first electrically powered compact excavator to be introduced to the market. The R18E uses a Li-ION battery (LFP type), generating a power capacity of 19.6 hp (14.6 kW). Its battery charger is rated at 3 kW, with a free-voltage range of 100-230 v AC.

Designed and engineered in-house in Korea, Hyundai debuted the prototype at a media event at its ConExpo indoor booth (N11601). Electrically powered compact excavators offer a variety of benefits, including no carbon emissions and quiet operations, noted Tito Sosa, HCEA senior product specialist. “One key feature about this electric type of machine is the quietness, of course,” Sosa said during the demonstration.

The prototype Hyundai R18E is a 2-ton-class machine designed for use both indoors and in urban settings. “That really isn’t a big market in the compact excavator size but still, given it’s niche application, we get a lot of interest for indoors applications – basements, metros, subways, indoor pools – so there’s really an interest for it right now. We’re just wanting to see what the demand out there for it is. We anticipate it at full production as soon as the demand comes to us,” Sosa said.

Offering power and productivity equivalent to the diesel-powered Hyundai R17Z-9A compact excavator, the R18E is 60% more energy efficient. With an operating weight of 3,800 lb (1,725 kg), digging depth of 7 ft 11 in (2,405 mm), and dump height of 8 ft 10 in (2,680 mm), the R18E is powered by an induction-type motor, with a one-hour current rating of 225 amps.

Digital control is provided through a microcontroller. It can operate up to eight hours on a full charge and can be fully recharged in five hours. As an electrically powered machine, the R18E produces no carbon emissions, and operates at 70.1 dB of sound. Hyundai expects to have the R18-E in production early next year, yet anticipates a possible 2022 production.

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