May 26, 2023

LiuGong unveils 856H

LiuGong used the recent ConExpo-Con/Agg to showcase what it says is the world's first commercially available mid-sized battery electric wheel loader, the 856H-E Max.

Powering the 856H-E Max is a 432-kWh large-capacity lithium-ion phosphate battery from battery manufacturer CATL. The machine can work 10 hours for light applications and 8 hours for heavy applications. It has an Intelligent Battery Management System that can be fast charged in 90 minutes.

The 856H-E MAX features intelligent controls and an operator-focused design, including load-sensing hydraulics, an EAT700 transmission with an electro-proportional valve for fast, smooth shifting, and independent control of the dual-motor drive for added hydraulic lift.

The LiuGong Intelligent Auto Digging System automatically carries out repetitive digging cycles to reduce operator fatigue. Its electric control box also improves transmission efficiency compared to conventional machines, the company says.

LiuGong says the 856H-E Max offers the highest levels of safety, visibility and comfort, including full ROPS protection and a cab design that significantly reduces dust and noise contamination.

Its reliability is reinforced by the IP67-rated wiring harness and waterproof integrated battery package. All of that is backed by a standard five-year or 10,000-hour warranty for the battery, motor and controller.

The 856H-E Max is part of the company's growing range of electric construction equipment designed for worksites where traditional combustion engines aren't allowed or in fixed site operations where investments in charging infrastructure make sense.

"LiuGong is the world's largest manufacturer of wheel loaders, so it makes sense for our company to lead the industry in the adoption and application of battery technology," said Andrew Ryan, president, LiuGong North America.

While ConExpo marked the North American debut of the machine, the company already had more than 2,000 electric wheel loaders operating across the world as of October 2022.

LiuGong North America sold its first 856H-E MAX to the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, with the agency taking the keys to the machine at the show.

The L.A. County Sanitation District's board of directors recently passed a resolution banning the purchase of any new equipment with an internal combustion engine. California has also placed a sunset on any equipment with Tier 2 emissions at the end of 2023, with Tier 3 equipment to be prohibited soon after.

An early adopter of alternative-fuel vehicles, the Sanitation District was given a chance to demo the machine earlier this year at its Joint Water Pollution Control Plant. Officials say they hope to secure additional funding by registering the electric vehicle with the California Air Resources Board's Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Program (CORE).

"It's a challenge for them because there aren't many commercially available machines," says Ryan. "Even though we’re proud to be out in front on this, we have a whole product range of wheel loaders that need to undergo electrification."

While LiuGong says it plans to explore a range of alternative power technologies, for now, it's focused on battery power. Every current LiuGong product – from skid steers to excavators – has a mandate to develop an electrified option.

"Our viewpoint is that there's going to be more than one technology and what we’re really focused on right now is battery electric as far as the available technology will take us to power the size of equipment we’re talking about," says Ryan. "And then, we’ll move to more hybrid solutions. Just like the old Prius, we’ll have a diesel engine alongside a battery pack."

Ryan admits that the challenge in bringing electric equipment to market is not the battery pack but the charging technology. "Charging solutions are not plentiful and really take a significant investment in many instances to install at a site. Our hypothesis is, at least in the beginning, that the best applications for electric products aren't going to be mobile kinds of projects but a fixed site location like an agricultural feedlot or a cement plant, where the machines are working on the same site every day."

To drive wider adoption and more mobile jobsite applications, LiuGong is experimenting with swappable battery technology and mobile charging solutions.

Ryan concluded by saying, "I do believe these solutions are going to come. It's too early to predict what's going to be the solution that's adopted, but because there's a need, there are entrepreneurs trying to figure out the answers. For now, the biggest adopters are going to be driven by regulation, social pressures and fixed site operation."