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Big changes on small Volvos

Nick Johnson gets his hands on the latest generation Volvo compact excavators and is impressed with their ease of control and operation.

In the competitive world of mini excavators, Volvo is now busy promoting its new-design 1.5 to 2.0 tonners. Their development has taken three years and involved a significant number of UK operators and buyers participating in customer clinics along the way. With model numbers that better indicate their operating weights, the newcomers are the EC15C, EC17C, EC18C and EC20C. They replace the EC15B in its XR, XT and XTV versions, as well as the XT and XTV variants of the previous EC20B.

Both the EC15C and its bigger brother, the EC17C, have the same fixed displacement 31 litre/minute hydraulic gear pump. The EC17C also has a fixed width undercarriage but it comes with a higher specification cabin, a long arm dozer blade and two-speed (1.9 and 3.7km/h) tracking. This machine weighs 1560kg with canopy or 1650kg with cab.

The 1670/1700kg (canopy/cab) EC18C is also set to prove popular with hire companies. This model has a side extending undercarriage, a long arm dozer blade and faster two-speed (2.5 and 4.6km/h) tracking. These features are also to be found on the bigger EC20C which weighs 1850/1940kg (with canopy or cab) and has a longer undercarriage with four (rather than three) bottom rollers. Both the EC18C and EC20C are equipped with a 44 litre/minute variable displacement Casappa hydraulic pump for increased performance and versatility.

Switch to Yanmar power

The four new minis should boost Volvo sales in the high-volume 1.5 to 2.0 tonne market segment.

The EC15B and EC20B had a reputation for being good diggers, but their design was getting somewhat dated as it was directly descended from the Pel-Job models EB150 and EB200 introduced in 1997. Volvo had taken over Pel-Job and its French factory in Belley two years earlier, and the machines made there all gained the Volvo badge in 2000. Now the Belley factory is busy producing the four new C-series mini excavators that were unveiled at Bauma in Munich during April. Mike Haskayne, Volvo Utility Equipment Regional Business Manager, who was closely involved with the development of the new machines, says that they are all-new from the ground up. Sensibly for hire fleet operators, they can utilise the buckets from their predecessors.

Hire-orientated machine

The new EC15C is an entry-level, cost-effective machine that weighs 1540kg with canopy or 1630kg with cab. It has a fixed width undercarriage, a short arm dozer blade and single-speed travel. This hire-orientated machine’s short arm dozer blade serves to keep weight down and makes it easier to get the mini onto a small plant trailer.


All four of these new Volvo minis are powered by fuel-efficient Yanmar diesel engines which meet Tier IV environmental regulations. This means that all Volvo compact excavators weighing up to 8 tonnes now have Yanmar engines that provide good power ratings.

The EC15C, EC17C and EC18C all have a tail radius of 1052mm. The fixed undercarriage of the EC15C and EC17C is 993mm wide so, when the machines are slewed around at 90° to their tracks, their tails extend by 556mm. The tracks on the EC18C and EC20C extend outwards to increase machine width from 994 to 1336mm. At the full width position, their tails extend by a reduced 384mm beyond the edge of their tracks.

In EHN’s tests, the entry-level EC15C showed impressive controllability.



Authorised to test plant & equipment for EHN.

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