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OEM unveils large electric drive wheel loader for Australian market

Caterpillar’s large electric drive wheel loader has been put to work at a recent showcase of the OEM’s latest innovations for the construction and extractive sectors in Western Australia.

On 31 October, dealers and key clients were invited to the 2019 national Load and Haul Event at Quarry Farm, 56km south of Perth, where the industrial equipment manufacturer also presented its articulated trucks and a range of other machinery.

Caterpillar’s new XE range – including the Cat 988K XE and 972M XE wheel loaders – were the centrepiece of the event. Building on predecessor models, they include additional features for greater productivity, efficiency and all-round performance for construction, earthmoving and smaller mining and quarrying operations.

“The highly versatile Cat XE range is going to be a popular choice for fast, efficient operations across all sectors, not to mention providing improved environmental performance for operators,” said Jarvas Croome, CEO of WesTrac, the WA and New South Wales dealer for Caterpillar.

The centrepiece of the show was the Cat 988K XE.

The 988K XE is Caterpillar’s first large wheel loader with an electric drive system, promising up to 25 per cent greater overall efficiency and up to 10 per cent more productivity in load and haul applications than the equivalent 988K loader.

Its electric drive technology is also said to lower overall maintenance costs, with extended oil change intervals of 2000 hours, requiring 40 per cent less powertrain oil. It offers increased engine life expectancy by up to 3500 hours, extending time between powertrain rebuilds.

The Cat C18 ACERT engine, mechanical dropbox, driveline and axles from the 988K model have been incorporated into the electric drive machine to facilitate consistent, trouble-free operation.

Loader for tighter spaces

Caterpillar’s showcase event, hosted by WesTrac, also provided the backdrop for the presentation of the 972M XE wheel loader, which uses 25 per cent less fuel on average compared to machines with traditional torque converters.

Although designed with the construction sector in mind, the 972M XE is suited to the demands of quarrying and mining operations with tighter loading areas and steep gradients. It also excels at truck loading, materials handling, construction, and industrial and waste applications that require high productivity and longer travel distances.

Other key features include a continuous variable transmission that enables smooth shifting, fast acceleration, and speed on grade, while also offering fuel economy.

Caterpillar showcased a range of other recent additions, including the 986K wheel loader, the 6015B hydraulic shovel, and the 745 and 740 GC articulated trucks.

Both articulated truck models feature a re-engineered cab design for enhanced comfort and ease of operation. They also include new controls, transmission-protection features, hoist-assist systems, advanced automatic traction control systems, stability-assist machine rollover warning systems, and a fuel-saving ECO mode.

There was a presentation of the Piacentini Panther Low Loader, which was designed by Bunbury-based contractor Piacentini & Son. It has been developed to improve safety and efficiency for loading and transporting heavy equipment around mine sites.

Croome, of WesTrac, said industry would welcome the further refinement of this range of construction and earthmoving equipment.

“We are delighted to be able to host such an important event on behalf of Caterpillar and welcome the interest and input of industry,” he said.

“Activity is increasing across Australia with a large number of infrastructure and major construction projects underway, while there’s also a lot of movement in mining.”


A 740 articulated dump truck tows the 6015B hydraulic shovel on the back of the Piacentini Panther Low Loader.
The 972M XE wheel loader uses an average 25 per cent less fuel compared to traditional torque machines.

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