Komatsu and Proterra partner to produce all-electric construction equipment

By Jenny LescohierFebruary 03, 2021

Komatsu takes its electrification efforts to the next level with its new partnership with Proterra

Global equipment manufacturer Komatsu Ltd. and Proterra Inc., a firm focused on commercial vehicle electrification technology, have announced an agreement to leverage Proterra’s battery technology for the development of Komatsu’s first battery-electric middle class hydraulic excavator.

The collaboration represents Proterra’s entry into the off-road vehicle market and the company’s first Proterra Powered battery-electric construction equipment.

Komatsu will utilize Proterra’s high-performance battery systems for the development of a proof-of-concept electric excavator in 2021 before expected commercial production in 2023 to 2024. The Proterra battery system powering the electric excavator will feature high energy density and fast charging technology.

Engineered and manufactured in the U.S., Proterra battery packs combine optimum energy density and a customizable design to fit within a variety of vehicles. The packaging flexibility of Proterra’s battery platform will further enable the ideal placement of the batteries within the middle class excavator and replace the need for a normal counterweight used to balance the excavator’s hydraulic arm movements.

“As more communities embrace a zero-emission future, Proterra is excited to partner with Komatsu to develop battery-electric construction equipment,” said Proterra CEO Jack Allen. “Proterra’s best-in-class battery technology has been proven in 16 million miles driven by our fleet of transit vehicles. What’s working in our battery-electric transit vehicles on roads across North America can work off-road, too. We look forward to collaborating with Komatsu to deliver the benefits of emissions-free, quiet Proterra Powered vehicles to more communities around the world.”

“I am excited about the collaboration with Proterra, by which Komatsu will drive the electrification of construction equipment,” said Seiichi Fuchita, president, Development Division, Komatsu Ltd.

Previously, most of Proterra’s battery packs have reportedly gone into public transit buses, school buses or delivery vans. This will be the Burlingame, Calif-based startup’s first application for off-road construction vehicles.

For its part, Komatsu introduced its PC30E-5 all-electric mini excavator to the Japanese market in April 2020. According to the company, it’s based on Komatsu’s accumulated technological expertise of hybrid construction equipment and electric forklift trucks, offers excavation performance on par with the internal combustion model of the same power output, while achieving zero exhaust gas and an outstanding noise reduction. 

Historically, Komatsu has been a leader in the industry by developing products designed to contribute to mitigating environmental impact, as represented by its hybrid hydraulic excavators in 2008, which marked the world’s first hybrid construction equipment on the market.

The company stated it also upholds the targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2010. To this end, Komatsu is working to supply high-quality, high-efficiency products, service and solutions designed to mitigate environmental impact in response to climate change and improve safety.

“As the concerns over climate change accelerate around the world, Komatsu is making full use of its accumulated technologies for hybrid construction equipment and electric mini excavators,” according to information on the company website. “Komatsu will also advance collaboration with its various strategic partners. In this manner, Komatsu will develop electric construction equipment which features zero exhaust gas and outstanding reduction of noise, while achieving excavation performance on par with engine-powered models.”

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