Hitachi, ABB Develop Electric Dump Truck Prototype 3 Years in the Making

February 23, 2024 by Jake Hertz

The fully electric dump truck prototype will be field tested before being released commercially.

The mining industry is notoriously unsustainable, requiring intense energy and depleting the earth’s resources. But what if mining could be made more sustainable by replacing conventional diesel dump trucks with electric alternatives? 

Hitachi Construction Machinery and ABB have completed a prototype electric dump truck with the potential to reduce mining’s carbon footprint.


A rendering of the electric dump truck.

A rendering of the electric dump truck. Image used courtesy of Hitachi 


Hitachi, ABB’s Electric Dump Truck Prototype

In 2021, Hitachi and ABB collaborated to develop an “engineless, full battery rigid dump truck.” The vehicle’s plan included concepts such as dynamic charging with a trolley system and a design to control initial and lifecycle costs by limiting battery volume and maximizing load capacity. 

Almost three years later, the group has successfully completed the first prototype of this concept. 

The dump truck incorporates ABB’s highly energy-efficient DC/DC converters and battery technology. The prototype features a sophisticated battery energy and thermal management system, which is key to maximizing the battery's service life and ensuring optimal performance under various operational conditions.

The prototype has already undergone factory testing and was recently shipped to Zambia for a test and demonstration in the Kanashi copper-gold mine in mid-2024.


Powering the Electric Dump Truck

Notably, the electric truck concept uses a trolley connection to provide power.

In concept, this system would function by connecting the dump truck to an overhead electric trolley line while ascending, which supplies power directly to the electric motor, thus saving battery charge. When descending, the truck switches to regenerative braking, a process where the motor operates in reverse to slow the vehicle, converting kinetic energy back into electrical energy to recharge the battery.


Overhead lines power the concept truck.

Overhead lines power the concept truck. Image used courtesy of Hitachi


This method is being explored to enhance efficiency and sustainability in mining operations. The system significantly reduces its reliance on stored battery power by using electric power for uphill travel, the most energy-intensive part of the truck's journey. Meanwhile, regenerative braking recaptures energy, maximizing efficiency and further conserving battery life.

Environmentally, this approach contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Operationally, it ensures a continuous workflow by minimizing the need for frequent recharging, thus boosting productivity. The decreased reliance on battery power alone extends the battery’s lifespan and reduces operational costs. 

Additionally, this system can lead to reduced wear and tear on the vehicle’s braking system, enhancing safety and lowering maintenance requirements. 


Reducing Mining’s Carbon Footprint

The mining industry receives steady scrutiny for unsustainable practices, yet the field is still necessary in the modern world. Hitachi and ABB hope their electric dump truck will positively impact the mining industry's future. While the prototype is not yet commercially ready, its imminent demonstration and testing in a real mine is a positive sign