Caterpillar planning more diesel-electric machines

By Chris Sleight22 April 2010

The diese-electric driveline from Caterpillar's D7E dozer.

The diese-electric driveline from Caterpillar's D7E dozer.

Caterpillar is planning to develop more diesel-electric machines, following on from the launch of its D7E dozer two years ago. According to the company, the first machine delivered to a customer is now at work in Chicago, US and is delivering the expected 20% to 30% fuel savings.

According to Chairman-elect Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar is now looking at other machines in its portfolio the technology could be applied to. The principle of the D7E's drive system is to use the diesel engine as a generator, which then powers electric drive motors on the tracks. This eliminates the friction losses associated with traditional drivelines, and the engine runs at a constant speed, which is much more fuel-efficient than an up-and-down cycle.

Mr Oberhelman said, "We have plans to extend that to other products. It won't be al of them by any means, but there are three or four product families where we think it will work very well."

He expects fuel efficiency issues to become more and more important in the future as the issue of limiting CO2 emissions becomes a higher priority for governments around the word.

"I do expect some sort of CO2 legislation in the future, but it is difficult to see know how it might work. There could be some sort of carbon tax or surcharge. We want to work on the carbon footprint of every machine to make them more efficient," he said.

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