Richmond business trials first-of-its-kind e-bucket loader

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 5:17 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont continues to be a testing ground for electric vehicle technology -- from cars, trucks, and planes -- to now, heavy equipment. A Richmond company is the proud owner of North America’s first Volvo electric bucket loader.

Over the last month, Cleary Stone in Richmond has been getting work done on-site almost silently. “You’re used to that noise, so it’s a little to get used to, but it is so nice,” said Alex Bergeron, the company’s co-owner.

He spends a few hours a day behind the wheel and says it can operate for about five hours and takes just as long to charge. They currently have the electric loader and its diesel twin. The electric version cost about twice as much. Bergeron says that because the machines are identical, the transition has been seamless. He says power and efficiency have been top-tier.

Wood’s CRW, the Williston company selling the machines, expects that as word spreads, the technology will take off. “We only expect it to grow and get bigger,” said the company’s Allison White. Volvo has plans for bigger electric equipment in the coming years and she expects Vermont to embrace it. “We have a lot of people here who really care about sustainability.”

Peggy O’Neill-Vivanco with the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center is looking into what are the best applications for these offroad sectors. She says with Vermont’s cold climate and rough terrain, the state is in a unique spot to test this technology. “Using Vermont as a proving ground, we can actually help inform what are the missing pieces. What do we need more of, what do we need less of,” she said.

At the moment, O’Neill-Vivanco says the tech’s best application is for duty cycles that allow for work and charging. Going forward, she says battery capacity and longevity in the cold have to get better for more widespread adoption. “We all have gotten used to internal combustion engines, so how do we bring folks along so they understand some of the differences and release their reluctance to try something new,” she said.

Cleary Stone’s Bergeron says they are all-in for the future and the environmental benefits it could reap. “Making sure that my child has a future and that the Earth is okay for her is big,” he said.

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