The world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) is a 45-ton dump truck operating at a quarry in Biel, Switzerland. However, it’s not its size that makes this EV particularly impressive. What truly sets it apart is that you virtually never have to plug it in.
Each day, the eDumper truck hauls 65 tons of rock collected off the side of a mountain, then descends down a 13-percent slope to a cement processing plant.
At 110-tons during its descent, the truck is more than twice as heavy than during its ascent to the collection point. This huge inertia enables the truck’s regenerative braking system to capture more than enough energy required to charge the eDumper for its trip up the quarry.
Moving vehicles can have a lot of kinetic energy, and when brakes are applied to slow a vehicle, all of that kinetic energy has to go somewhere. In most vehicles, that energy is lost as heat, but electric vehicles use the motor as a generator to convert much of the kinetic energy into stored energy in the vehicle’s battery. These days, you can find regenerative braking in everything from electric bicycles and skateboards to electric scooters.
The eDumper was made by Kuhn Schweitz AG, based on a Komatsu HB 605-7. The EV truck is 9 meters long (30 ft.), 4.2 meters wide (14 ft.), and 4.2 meters tall (14 ft.). When fully raised, the dump bed reaches up to 8.5 meters in height (28 ft.).
Powering the truck is a massive 600-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which carries nearly six times the energy density in a Tesla Model S and weighs 4.5 tons (9,000 pounds).
Thanks to regenerative braking, the eDumper captures potential energy traveling down a slope with an excess load to power its batteries. Each year, the truck saves 50,000 tons of diesel, thereby reducing its CO2 footprint by 1.3 million kg.
It’s truly impressive how far EVs have gone. More than two million plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) were sold in 2018, a 63% increase from 2017. Meanwhile, companies are experimenting with electric trucks, boats, and even airplanes.