Poll: Contractors Reveal Electric Construction Equipment Purchase Plans

Man holding an electric equipment charger
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Alternatively powered construction equipment and tools continue to be the talk of trade shows with more new prototypes and models rolling out at every event.

ConExpo 2023 served as the catalyst for many of these announcements, with nearly every major manufacturer teasing or showcasing their battery or hydrogen construction equipment, along with charging and fueling solutions.

This year’s CES, World of Concrete, ARA Show and World of Asphalt also saw their share of headlines – from Cat debuting its battery-powered R1700 XE LHD underground loader and 301.9 electric compact excavator to Cratos rolling out its THR2000 mini track loader and major toolmakers – Milwaukee Tool, DeWalt, Bosch, Husqvarna, Hilti, Makita – taking aim at gas concrete tools with zero-emission battery power options.

While some manufacturers have gone all-in on electric equipment, others continue to pursue all forms of alternative power, waiting to see what the market latches onto as the most viable option.

Without ample refueling infrastructure for hydrogen or methane, electric has emerged as the current frontrunner in the market. But are contractors ready to make the switch?

In our latest reader poll, conducted from March 12 to April 12, we asked EquipmentWorld.com visitors if they are planning on purchasing electric equipment this year.

More than 2,500 people weighed in. Here’s what they said:

  • No way we’re going electric: 58%
  • Haven’t made up my mind: 37% 
  • Definitely getting into electric: 8%

An open-ended question at the end of the poll helped shed some light as to why most respondents aren’t ready to ditch diesel. Some responses were more “colorful” than others.

  • “Charging, lifespan of batteries, cost of replacing batteries. I would imagine it’s the same headaches I have with my golf cart, only on steroids.”
  • “I live where it can be -40 for four months of the year. Nothing electric works in that weather. Also, having been a firefighter, I know electric equipment is extremely dangerous, and it takes almost 15x the water/foam mixture to douse the flames. Not to mention the extremely hazardous fumes electrical fires give off.”
  • “Lack of mechanics trained to work on this type of equipment. Lack of power sources on job sites.”
  • “Not feasible. Hybrid technology should be the way of the future. Not some woke ideology that is actually worse for the environment than clean diesel.”
  • “I'm tired of being forced in an idiotic direction that is completely unsustainable with our current power generation and distribution capabilities worldwide.”

Meanwhile, some respondents on the fence said project requirements or government incentives would help push them toward a purchase.

  • “As of right now, we are not in the market for new equipment. If we were to get on a job that had benefits for using electric, I would for sure consider it. We were on a highway job that required Tier 4 or better equipment, so I purchased a new John Deere skid loader for the project.”
  • “As of right now, I don’t need to purchase new equipment.  If I were to get a contract that would need a percentage of equipment be electric, I would consider.”

And those in favor of electric machines noted several advantages over diesel equivalents.

  • “Always starts. No need to breathe diesel fumes!”
  • “High fuel prices, high maintenance costs on diesel construction equipment.”
  • “I believe we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
  • “I have specific jobs coming up that will require electric - no emissions and noise restrictions - electric will satisfy these. It will also prepare a pivot of business into markets I was not necessarily involved in.”

Only time and the market will tell where we are headed. As Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”