Merlo's hybrid grows in power

By Maria Hadlow03 March 2011

Merlo is still trialing its new hybrid telehandler with increasingly powerful lithium ion batteries

Merlo is still trialing its new hybrid telehandler with increasingly powerful lithium ion batteries

Alongside a wide selection of its product range Merlo was demonstarating the latest version of its hybrid telehandler in one of the demonstration areas at Samoter. The hybrid unit takes a standard Merlo Turbofarmer P 41.7 with a 103 kW engine and fits a new hybrid power unit comprising a 55 kW Kubota engine and a 49 kWhp motor/generator fed by a Lithium Ion battery pack.

Since the first prototype of this machine was shown at last year's Bauma in Munich Merlo has been working in partnership with the battery developer and now, said Paolo Peretti marketing manager at Merlo, "We have a new generation of batteries of which we are the first users."

The hybrid machine is still being tested, but in trials it uses 30% of the diesel consumed by a similar all diesel Merlo telehandler when run over an continual eight hour period: lifting and moving loads, towing trailers and so on. "And we expect even further improvements, "said Mr Peretti.

The telehandler can be used in three modes: using diesel power only; in hybrid mode, powered by battery and with the idling engine powering up if needed; and in all-electric mode, with the batteries regenerated during breaking. The batteries sit under the cab and the fuel tank has been shifted to the forward left hand side of the machine.

Mr Peretti told AI that he expected the first production models to be available at the beginning of next year, "The battery technology keeps on improving, he said and there might be no limit to the size of machine we can run using this technology."

On the market Mr Peretti said that the decline in the construction market was more than compensated for by the sales Merlo made into agriculture. Turnover was up in 2010 to €400 million, "The first two months of 2011 look promising for a better year in 2011," said Mr Peretti.

"There are signs of recovery in some European markets - France, Italy and Germany are good while the UK and Spain remain flat. Northern Europe and Latin America are improving as is Australia and New Zealand and we even have a few units going into Africa. India is OK, we are selling in the Middle East, but not in big numbers, but Canada is booming."

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