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Tue December 10 2019

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Colas puts Volvo's electric digger to the test

22 Aug Colas subsidiary Spac is carrying out the first site trials of Volvo Construction Equipment's new electric compact excavator.

Spac operator Alexandre Birot is putting the Volvo ECR25 Electric through its paces at the Saint-Nom-la Bretèche golf course
Spac operator Alexandre Birot is putting the Volvo ECR25 Electric through its paces at the Saint-Nom-la Bretèche golf course

Spac has taken delivery of the first ECR25 Electric and will be using the 2.5-tonne excavator to dig trenches at the Saint-Nom-la Bretèche golf course, just outside Paris.

Earlier this week JCB announced that its first battery-powered mini excavator was now in serial production, with customer deliveries starting. Volvo Construction Equipment is not at that stage yet but is looking to catch up. The ECR25 Electric was unveiled at this year’s Bauma exhibition in Germany and has now been delivered to Spac for customer testing.

“It’s exciting for us to see this machine at a client’s construction site,” says Elodie Guyot, electric compact excavator project manager for Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE). “It’s in a very quiet and peaceful area where residents want that quietness and peacefulness to be respected so it’s crucial to have a machine that meets this need.”

Spac site manager Benjamin Silvent said: “For residents and cities in general, it makes our worksites more acceptable because it limits carbon emissions and noise disturbance.”

Machine operator Alexandre Birot added: “When we talk to the guy in the trench we don’t have to yell, we talk normally and he can hear everything. With a traditional excavator we first have to turn the engine off for him to be able to hear. What’s more, when we spend the whole day in the trench, usually he would inhale a lot of fumes but now there’s no exhaust gas for him to inhale. If there were only electric machines in the company that would be amazing.”

The Volvo ECR25 Electric replaces a combustion engine with 48V lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor that powers the hydraulics to move the machine and attachments. The batteries store enough energy to power the machine for eight hours in typical applications, such as utility work. An onboard charger enables overnight charging via a regular household plug socket. A fast charging option, requiring more powerful grid access, will also be available.

The Volvo ECR25 Electric will be available in selected markets from mid-2020.

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