Gradall and Volvo Penta partnered to introduce a highway-speed electric wheeled excavator concept, the EL 4100, at ConExpo 2023. The zero-emissions concept machine is modeled after Gradall’s XL 4100 V.
It is entirely powered by two Volvo Penta batteries that fit into the existing engine bay. The electric driveline system from Volvo Penta also includes the complete high voltage system — electric motors, converters, junction boxes and cabling.
With a hydraulic system powered by a Volvo Penta-supplied electric machine power take-off (EM PTO), this concept machine uses battery power to transport its own excavator. The system will deliver 94 kWh of energy, and it can reach full capacity in under 45 minutes from a 150 kW charger.
“If we go get a normal Gradall operator from any municipality today up in that cab, he is going to run it the same as any 4100 they have in their fleet right now. It works, operates and feels exactly the same,” says Mike Popovich, president, Gradall Industries.
The machine features a telescopic boom mounted next to a separate cab sitting to the rear of a road-going chassis. This allows the machine to be independently dispatched to many locations throughout the workday, rather than requiring a low loader for transport. It also makes the EL 4100 suited for work in environments where knuckle boom models may not be the ideal fit, such as under overhead obstructions like powerlines.
The excavator is designed for municipalities and highway work, and the company acknowledged that was an important factor in deciding to electrify the machine. “I think we all understand the burden of converting everything to electric, but our customers are asking for it,” said Popovich. “Government entities and municipalities are very interested in sustainability and carbon-free emissions.”
The company anticipates that demand will primarily come from customers in large metro areas with noise restrictions, small jobsite footprints and access to charging infrastructure.
Should owners run into mechanical issues, all Gradall dealers are Volvo Penta-certified and capable of servicing the machine.
An Expanding Partnership
For nearly a decade, Volvo Penta has been the exclusive supplier of 5- and 8-liter Tier 4 Final engines for Gradall’s diesel-powered machines, making them the obvious choice for the company’s first step into electromobility, according to Gradall.
“We see Volvo Penta as a power partner rather than an engine supplier – this is a turnkey solution to them. We didn’t want to be in a situation where we’re mixing and matching from 10 different suppliers and trying to make it all work seamlessly,” says Popovich. “Volvo Penta’s full systems approach and expertise, together with proven Volvo Group technology, was the ideal solution for us. This is a natural progression of our existing partnership toward where we’re both heading in the future.”
Hannes Norgren, president of Volvo Penta’s industrial business unit, added: “Expanding our partnership with Gradall into electromobility is an exciting development for us. This is our first electrification project in a construction application, representing another milestone in Volvo Penta’s electromobility journey and aligning with our sustainability ambitions.”
More Testing to Be Done
Following its appearance at ConExpo, the EL 4100 will undergo extensive testing and verification to optimize it for the application.
“At Volvo Penta, we partner with our customers and collaborate to optimize the design and adapt the complete electric driveline system for a specific vehicle, allowing us to deliver a tailored solution based on their exact usage requirements,” said Fredrik Högberg, president of Volvo Penta North America. “We are on hand and provide technical expertise throughout the entire design and development stages, so our collaboration with Gradall is still very much ongoing – it’s a true partnership.”