Nick Johnson compared the trenching ability of the electric 19C-1E with its diesel counterpart.

Electric benefits

Nick Johnson reports on new products shown at a recent JCB press launch, which also provided an opportunity to try out the manufacturer’s electric mini excavator.

At the Executive Hire Show in February, JCB showed the first production version of its 19C-1E all-electric mini excavator and the new CT260-120 lightweight tandem roller. Recently, there was a major press launch to highlight not only this duo, but also other new products prior to Plantworx.

JCB’s new demonstration quarry was used to good effect to display the latest models which, in the smaller size classes of most interest to EHN readers, included new and updated site dumpers, an electric Teletruk and a special Highways Master version of the 3CX Compact backhoe loader.

The company claims that its battery powered mini is the first full electric 1.9-tonner to actually go into production, now being made at the JCB Compact Products factory in Cheadle. Designed to operate without the restriction of a trailing cable, this electric motor equipped version of the established diesel 19C-1 utilises three or four lithium-ion batteries, protected by a sophisticated management system and an on-board charger.

According to JCB, the 15kWh or optional 20kWh of energy storage provided by the batteries is enough for a full working shift for typical users. It is initially being equipped to provide both 110V and 230V charging, whilst a fast charge (under two hours) option will soon be available. The 230V 16A supply requires an eight-hour charge time from empty, while the 110V supply would require a 12-hour period. The batteries, it is claimed, have been designed to last the operating life of the machine.

Put to the test

JCB boldly states that the 19C-1E delivers all the performance of its diesel counterpart, the 19C-1. So, to put this claim to the test, I dug trenches with both machines in the challenging quarry terrain. The test 19C-1, with its 10.8kW Perkins 403D-07 diesel engine, was equipped with a cab, whereas the electric 19C-1E only comes, at present, with a ROPS/TOPS and FOGS certified canopy. Both have the same adjustable width undercarriage (980mm-1330mm), Bosch Rexroth load-sensing hydraulics and digging equipment which can provide a maximum digging depth of 2,819mm with the longer 1,344mm dipper arm.


With its rear and offside covers opened, the 19C-1E reveals its lack of a diesel engine.

The 19C-1E has a key start and a clear gauge shows the percentage of charge remaining. A blue light indicates when the very quiet electric motor is running and, rather than a traditional throttle, a rotary dial increases motor rpm. In the ‘low’ setting, the electric motor runs at 1,200rpm, while in ‘general’ it operates at 1,600rpm and in ‘high’ mode the motor spins at 1,800rpm.

There are two tracking speeds of 2.0km/h and 4.0km/h. Using the latter, with safety bleeper sounding, I drove the 19C-1E to the area I had selected to go trenching. Then, with the conventional 19C-1 positioned alongside, I alternately used both machines to dig parallel trenches.

After I had got used to the quietness of the electric version, I was impressed by its digging capability: certainly up to that of its diesel stablemate. Both machines were well able to extract some quite sizeable rocks and the 19C-1E scored by being quicker on the uptake as there is no diesel engine lug-down. Also, the newcomer seemed a bit more precise on slew.

Bright future Whilst there is obviously a capital cost

premium for the 19C-1E, it ought to have a bright future, especially on jobs where quietness and zero emissions are deemed essential. Electricity is cheaper than diesel, and electric excavators mean operators do not face time restrictions when working indoors in confined spaces. There is also no need for expensive sound barriers or fume extraction equipment.

In its quest to add more ‘E Tech’ machines, JCB has just launched a new electric version of its innovative Teletruk. This machine type was first introduced with a diesel engine back in 1997 to challenge the traditional masted industrial forklift by having a telescopic boom to provide the addition of forward reach.

Designated the 30-19E, the new model has a maximum capacity of 3,000kg and can lift a load of 1,900kg at a maximum forward reach of 2.0m. The 80V 625Ah Marathon Classic lead acid batteries from GNB Industrial Power are said to allow a running time of up to eight hours on a single charge. Recharge time can be eight hours when a 3-phase supply is used.



Authorised to test plant & equipment for EHN.

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