Is electric the answer for construction equipment?

By |  March 14, 2023
From left: Komatsu’s Rod Strader, Rod Bull, Mike Gidaspow, Tim Tripas and Doug Morris. Photo: P&Q Staff

From left: Komatsu’s Rod Schrader, Rod Bull, Mike Gidaspow, Tim Tripas and Doug Morris. Photo: P&Q Staff

While electric vehicles are driving some conversations this week at ConExpo-Con/Agg, one equipment manufacturer says time will ultimately tell if electricity emerges as a winner in certain construction markets.

Rod Schrader, chairman and CEO of Komatsu North America, touched on the demand for electric equipment during his company’s ConExpo-Con/Agg press conference Tuesday. And while electric equipment is a solution in some markets, Schrader says electricity must prove its viability in others.

“Companies, governments [and] states have put mandates and targets in place,” says Schrader, who also touched on industry issues related to inflation, the supply chain and the workforce during a separate ConExpo-Con/Agg press conference Monday. “All manufacturers are investing in technology to decarbonize their vehicles. Electric is the first kind of start. I don’t think it’s the only, and it may not even be the winner. There may be other technologies that occur.”

Perhaps the biggest question left to be answered about electric equipment in certain applications is how it can best be charged.

“I think there’s some levels of hesitancy in terms of how are you going to charge it, “Schrader says.

While electric construction equipment isn’t ideal in rural or remote work areas, Schrader says there are applications that lend themselves to it nicely.

“Customers renting the machine for a day makes sense,” he says.

Electric’s potential is also limited in larger-size applications.

“[When] you start getting into the 20-, 30-, 40-ton excavators in rural and remote areas, it becomes more challenging,” Schrader says. “I would say the challenge is not overcome yet. We’re working on that collectively with our customers, with state and local communities and entities to figure that out – and [with] third-party partners, as well.”

Ultimately, Schrader says time will tell how electric equipment fares in various construction markets.

“The next five to six years will be very interesting,” he says.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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