Honda, Komatsu developing micro excavators with swappable batteries

Honda Motor Co Ltd and Komatsu Ltd have commenced the joint development to electrify Komatsu micro excavators using the Honda mobile power pack (MPP) - a swappable battery developed by Honda - and to establish a battery-sharing system for the civil engineering and construction industry.

Komatsu micro excavators include the PC01, PC05 and PC09 mini excavator models. The PC01 is believed to be the world’s smallest riding excavator, featuring an engine size of 600 CC or below, and one of Komatsu’s long-time best seller products.

Both Honda and Komatsu have been at the forefront of the industry in taking initiatives to develop products with low environmental impact. Honda has been expanding the line-up of products powered by MPPs, while Komatsu achieved the world’s first market introduction of hybrid hydraulic excavators in 2008, and the launch of Komatsu PC30E-5 mini electric excavator (hydraulic drive) for rental use in Japan in April 2020.

Through this latest joint development, the two companies aim to electrify the Komatsu PC01 micro excavator by equipping it with Honda MPPs and an electrified power unit (eGX). The excavator is most likely to be used in a variety of applications near people, trees, flowers and ornamental plants, including pipe-laying, landscaping and agricultural and livestock work.

Honda and Komatsu plan to introduce the electric Komatsu PC01 before the end of the current fiscal year, ending 31 March 2022. 

In addition to significantly reducing noise and exhaust heat, electrification of the micro excavator will minimise its environmental impact due to zero exhaust gas emission. This in turn enables users to work comfortably in various indoor and outdoor work environments.

Thanks to the innovative features of MPP as a swappable battery, users can also operate the electric equipment continuously without waiting for an MPP to recharge. By powering Komatsu equipment with Honda MPPs, both companies strive to make energy supply easier and offer greater convenience for customers. 

After the market introduction of the electric micro excavator, Honda and Komatsu will undertake demonstration testing of a structure to supply MPPs to civil engineering and construction sites, and also enhance the convenience of electric construction machinery and equipment by providing after-sales services, including a battery swapping system. 

Further down the road, the two companies will conduct a joint development to electrify other micro excavator models as well as mini excavator models with operating weights of up to 1 t. Moreover, they will jointly explore possibilities for MPP-based electrification of a wide range of equipment used at civil engineering and construction sites and introducing such electric products to markets outside Japan.