Bobcat Just Unveiled the First Electric Skid Steer
Interested in battery-powered machinery? The new electric Bobcat skid steer might be up your alley.
Skid steer loaders are incredibly useful, as anyone who cuts serious amounts of firewood from the bush, has a big hole to dig or works in the forestry industry can tell you. These relatively small but powerful machines use hydraulically powered arms combined with different skid steer attachments to dig, lift and drag with serious amounts of strength and speed.
As someone who’s rented and used a skid steer a handful of times on my rural property, I wouldn’t have thought these robust, traditionally diesel-powered machines were compatible with the growing trend of battery-powered equipment. As good as modern batteries have become, my guess would have been that the work skid steers do is simply too demanding for any battery to handle. Turns out I was wrong, as Bobcat (the manufacturer perhaps best known for making skid steers) has recently proven.
What’s Special About Bobcat’s Electric Skid Steer?
The Bobcat S7X is the world’s first battery-powered skid steer loader. When I heard about this machine, I was skeptical, and immediately sought out its performance stats. Turns out, it’s powered by a massive 60.5-kilowatt/hour lithium-ion battery. That’s enough juice to light 1,000 60-watt incandescent light bulbs for an hour or cover the daily energy needs of an average American household for 24 hours.
According to Bobcat, this machine is more powerful than its fossil-fuel-burning counterparts too, mustering up to three times the instantaneous torque of non-battery models. Being electric, the S7X gives zero emissions while running, and can keep working for up to 8 hours before it needs to charge for the next 10.
Is Bobcat’s Electric Skid Steer Available in the Market?
The S7X isn’t on the market yet, but Bobcat is aiming for commercialization soon. At the moment it’s still in the prototype stage, with no current projected date of release. Delaying release strikes me as a wise move since the limiting factor with large battery-powered machines isn’t so much power or capacity, but how the battery performs over time and how expensive and troublesome it is to replace. These factors will make or break the success of Bobcat’s new electric skid steer.