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Industry Trends

What's Happening with Electric and Hybrid MEWPs

Blog Posts - Nov 20

What's Happening with Electric and Hybrid MEWPs

Mirco Negri
Senior Product Manager
JLG Industries

Globally, the focus on reducing emissions produced by off-highway construction equipment, including MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms), continues to expand exponentially.

Two drivers for this growth are 1) existing and future legislation on emissions and noise, and 2) the desire to drive down equipment’s total cost of ownership (TCO). 

Responding to these drivers, the aerial market has changed in the last few years. In the past, MEWPs were powered by the biggest, most powerful internal combustion (IC) engines that an individual equipment model could support. But today, that’s all changed. The new trend is toward owning and operating equipment that comes equipped with the latest hybrid technology, direct drive and/or lithium ion batteries.

We’ve asked Mirco Negri, product management coordinator for JLG in the EMEAIR region, to give us a look at what’s happening with electric and hybrid MEWPs.

What are the market drivers for electrification?
Negri: There are different drivers, but increasingly, we see demand for greener and more versatile machines. Legislation is a driver for electric and hybrid, but TCO is also playing a role in this trend. Especially because the rental companies are always looking to improve their fleet’s TCO. 

By offering simple, fully electric, lithium-ion powered machines, we are reducing TCO. We dramatically reduce maintenance costs. In fact, they are pretty much maintenance free compared to the maintenance required for a diesel engine. This is a very important point in discussions with our customers.”

The maintenance costs for diesel engines are going up due to the introduction of Stage V standards in Europe, particularly because of the diesel particulate filters (DPF) they require. With lithium the battery costs are coming down, due to it becoming more popular, this option will become more popular — and most likely, more requested — in aerial equipment; whereas, because diesel costs are going up incrementally, we expect to see less demand for IC powered models.

We dramatically reduce maintenance costs. In fact, they are pretty much maintenance free compared to the maintenance required for a diesel engine.

Can lithium-ion batteries be used in aerial equipment?
Negri: Lithium-ion batteries provide some features that add a lot of value to that market segment. Quick recharging is very important for some applications, as well as low noise and being emissions-free.

We see that there is demand for sustainable products, particularly in Europe, so we work to satisfy that demand. For example, JLG has had a long association with compact crawler boom manufacturer Hinowa, which was a pioneer in using lithium-ion batteries in aerial lifts. The attributes of compact crawlers are very specific, as they need to be lightweight and compact. Lithium-ion batteries work extremely well and are a winning technology for these machines. 
JLG EC520AJ Boom LiftWhat are some of the newer electrified products that JLG offers?
Negri: Our customers are asking for more electrified equipment solutions, and we’re working to provide them. For example, at Bauma 2019, JLG previewed the EC450AJ and EC520AJ, our first fully electric mid-sized booms — and the first with lithium-ion batteries. We shipped the first production units in September, 2020.These are diesel-like machines in terms of performance. We knew we needed to provide diesel-like performance in line with customers’ expectations of a machine in outdoor applications. And, we believe that this is the goal we have achieved with the EC booms. 

It is important to us to see how the market reacts to the new lithium-ion powered booms and to continue to get customer feedback that we can incorporate into our future electrified MEWP products.

What’s the future of electrified MEWPs?
Negri: Technology is continuously developing, and obviously, JLG is following this closely. We anticipate that ss lithium batteries will become more affordable, and that the technology will become more accessible, therefore, there will be less need and demand for hybrid models. This will be because the performance of a lithium-ion operated machine is equal to a conventional diesel-powered machine.

As our customers continue to adopt more “green” solutions, we believe that all of the ingredients for electrification are in place — and at JLG, we are responding. Our plans for electrification not only include hybrid models in our boom and scissor lift lines, but we’re also working to introduce many fully-electric models, as well as incorporating lithium-ion battery technology into many models. 

You can find more information about JLG electric and hybrid products here.


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