Inside the eDumper, the largest electric vehicle in the world

July 16, 2019

Originally published by Ben Morse for CNN.

From computers to mobile phones, developments in modern technology mean everything has got smaller.

But the “eDumper” is a very different type of beast — 110 tons heavy when fully loaded and powered by a 4.5-ton all-electric battery, this dump truck prototype is the largest electric vehicle (EV) in the world.

Produced by Kuhn Schweiz AG, the truck is operating in a mountainside quarry in Biel, Switzerland, and is capable of delivering 60 tons of lime and marl.

Like all electric vehicles, the eDumper harnesses power from braking.

Through a process called regenerative braking, the eDumper’s electric motor goes into reverse when the driver hits the brake pads, releasing electricity that can be stored and returned to the battery.

And the heavier the load, the stronger the braking and the more electricity can be recovered.

Even Lucas di Grassi — the 2017 Formula E championship winner — was surprised by the eDumper’s regenerative braking capacity.

“We had 75 tons of rocks and we went out of here with 90%, went all the way to the top,” di Grassi told CNN Sport.

“We arrived with 80% battery, loaded up and on our way back, we recovered 8% so we came back with 88% — that’s actually pretty cool.”

The eDumper’s tires are more than six feet high allowing them to cope with inclines of 13%, even in harsh weather, while to reach the vehicle’s cockpit, drivers have to negotiate nine stairs.

For the 1.79m tall Di Grassi, it’s quite impressive. “It is huge — it’s amazing.”

With the eDumper’s 600 KWh battery — the same as about seven Tesla Model S 75Ds — and the regenerative braking, the truck saves 50,000 tons of diesel each year and also reduces the CO2 footprint by 1.3 million kg every year.

“This is pure magic,” de Grassi said. “That’s the real-world application of EV. Making it cheaper, more efficient and greener. So, you’re saving 50,000 tons of fuel per machine per year.”

As the world move towards an electric future, the eDumper provides us with a glimpse of what the future may look like.

And even though di Grassi races electric vehicles for a living, even he can’t help but be astounded by the truck’s sheer power and size.

“I understand it has 10 times the battery capacity and three times the power, so it has the same power as three Formula E cars,” he said. “I just saw the motor, it’s huge, it’s super impressive.”

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