Cooper Equipment Rentals deploys the first electric JCB mini excavators

Cooper Equipment
By Lori Lovely

As Rod Lentino, rental fleet manager at Cooper Equipment Rentals, is an intrepid early adopter, he secured JCB’s first two battery-powered mini excavators available to North America.

The JCB 19C-1E electric mini excavator is the manufacturer’s first machine in the new E-TEC range of fully electric products, which is designed to deliver zero exhaust emissions while matching the performance of similarly sized diesel machines.

“We were the first to market because I had the courage to give a blanket purchase order to JCB without knowing the cost or delivery date,” Lentino said.

Cooper Equipment electrified

After seeing the 19C-1E mini excavator at a trade show, Lentino ordered two machines, adding a third shortly afterwards. He said the electric excavators are a natural fit for Cooper Equipment, which already offered battery-powered skid steers and battery packs to power electric tools.

Cooper Equipment is a full-service construction equipment rental company with 40 locations across Canada. The rental company has the youngest average fleet in the market, Lentino said, who takes pride in offering state-of-the-art equipment to their core customers, consisting of contractors in roadbuilding, utilities, sewer and water and infrastructure, as well as to homeowners and DIYers.

They also have electric equipment in their fleet, but it requires generator power and a long cable, which makes it costly and inconvenient. One of the attractions of the battery-powered excavators is the “freedom to roam the site” without the hindrance or limitation of power cords, Lentino explained.

Another benefit of the 2-ton 19C-1E is that it’s a zero-emissions machine, making it suitable for construction and excavation applications in tight urban areas and emissions-sensitive environments such as hospitals, churches and schools.

“You can’t have a diesel generator working inside,” Lentino points out, “so we would have to do the work by hand.”

In addition to being time-consuming, that led to fatigue and injuries, he added.

When using the zero-emissions 19C-1E, there’s no need for fans or filters for air quality, Lentino added. The machines also reduce the carbon footprint of a project and contribute to achieving LEED certification.

First 19C-1Es customers

One of Cooper Equipment’s new JCB 19C-1Es is in Toronto, where it has already been rented for daily and weekly projects. Another is being sent to a mine in northern Ontario for processing ore underground, where lack of power and emissions are factors. The third was sent immediately to the Vancouver airport to use on installation of a moving sidewalk.

Lentino added that as acceptance of electric machines surges, there will be “all kinds of unanticipated applications” for the excavator that produces one-fifth of the noise of JCB’s diesel-powered 19C excavator.

The mini excavator features a Bosch Rexroth load-sensing hydraulic system for digging performance to a maximum dig depth of 2.82 metres. Its 48-volt electric driveline generates peak power up to 27 hp (20 kW).

Powered by three lithium-ion batteries creating 15 kWh of capacity, the 19C-1E produces about four and a half hours of work time on a single charge, which Lentino said is sufficient for a full day. It requires recharging for eight hours, using a standard outlet, or has a fast-charge option.

According to JCB, an optional four-battery pack increases capacity to 20 kWh and delivers an additional two hours of continuous use. Although Lentino estimates its cost at roughly two times more than diesel machines, JCB research indicates that electric charging costs will be 50 per cent lower than fuel costs for a comparable diesel machine over a five-year period and service costs will be up to 70 per cent lower.