Mechanization and Technology

CNH Inaugurates Electric Compact Wheel Loader Production Line in Lecce

04 July 2024, Italy: The production line for the new electric compact wheel loader was inaugurated today at the CNH plant in Lecce, Italy. The model, conceived and designed in the Puglia plant’s R&D centre, will be produced in CASE and New Holland liveries with the 12EV and W40X models respectively. From here, it will reach markets around the world, meeting the growing need for zero-emission machinery in the construction and agricultural sectors.

The ceremony was held in the presence of institutions from the Puglia Region, including Alessandro Delli Noci, Councillor for Economic Development, and Loredana Capone, President of the Regional Council, together with the Mayor of Lecce, Adriana Poli Bortone, and CNH management: Stefano Pampalone, CNH President Construction Segment, Carlo Alberto Sisto, CNH EMEA President, Federico Bullo, CNH Head of Construction Europe, Ciro Casapulla, CNH Head of Construction Product Development, Carlo Lambro, Managing Director CNH Industrial Italia S.p.A.  and Guido Moscheni, CNH CE HR Business Partner. 

The new model completes the company’s range of compact electric vehicles, which already includes the two mini electric excavators produced in Cesena. CNH is thus responding to the rapidly growing demand for alternative powertrains, driven by the needs of metropolitan and municipal areas, mainly in Europe, and the requirements of sectors such as agriculture and livestock farming, in search of high-performance yet silent and zero-emission machines that can operate safely indoors and near animals.

Lecce plant increasingly central to CNH

The Lecce plant, which recently celebrated 50 years of activity, is one of CNH’s main production centres in Italy and EMEA.It occupies 600,000 square metres and houses 7 product lines (wheel loaders, compact wheel loaders, backhoe loaders, telehandlers and motor graders) for 203 models and 4896 different configurations. Production volumes have grown exponentially, marking an 88% increase between 2020 and 2022 and a further 14% in 2023, the year that recorded the highest number of machines produced since its foundation.

In parallel with investments in production capacity, CNH has implemented major infrastructure and environmental improvements. In 2022, an investment of around €13 million (part of the Converto project, co-financed by the Region of Puglia) enabled the installation of a new advanced painting plant and a new plasma cutting machine. The former has significantly improved product quality and reduced environmental impact through more efficient use of water. The new cutting machine has increased productivity, reducing waste and maintenance costs. Furthermore, the recent adoption of a photovoltaic system covering 40% of the production area confirms the commitment to sustainability and energy self-sufficiency of the production site. Also as part of the Converto project, CNH has invested in the construction of new rooms for testing electrified vehicles and for checking operations in extreme climatic conditions (-50° to +50°).

Alessandro Delli Noci, Councillor for Economic Development of the Region Puglia, commented on the relationship that links the plant to the territory: “This industrial complex has long been a reference point for many companies in Salento, which benefit from the allied industries linked to production and is also an important pole in terms of employment. We are happy that CNH continues to believe and invest in this important reality with products and projects of high technological content.”

The electric compact wheel loader – Italian innovation for a sustainable future

The new electric compact wheel loader, which has been successfully presented at major international trade fairs such as ConEXPO in Las Vegas and Agritechnica in Hanover, offers significant advantages in terms of low noise and zero emissions. These characteristics make it particularly suitable for operating in closed environments, where CO2 emissions are not permitted, on night-time construction sites and in all applications that are sensitive to noise pollution. Furthermore, this type of machine guarantees high performance and lower operating costs than diesel-powered vehicles.

Ciro Casapulla, Head of Construction Product Development, explained the new electric model in detail, emphasising how innovation has always been made in Lecce, and how this, in the case of electrification, entails a paradigm shift: ‘We have not just replaced the diesel engine with batteries. We have completely revised the design, also drawing on technologies and calculation techniques typical of the aerospace sector. Firstly, by lightening the weight, removing it where it wasn’t needed, in a reasoned and calibrated way to increase performance and preserve the machine’s autonomy’.

The weight reduction, also achieved thanks to the special “lattice” boom, has led to an improvement in tipping load: a light boom means weight is shifted to the rear and therefore greater loading capacity and stability. Another important innovation, borrowed from the top-of-the-range diesel models, are the electro-hydraulic controls which, combined with the electric drive, make it possible to maximise the efficiency and the controllability of movements. 

The new electric model has a range of 3 to 6 hours depending on the type of application. Recharging can be done with the domestic power socket with the standard 230V on-board charger or with the optional fast charger, which can recharge the 23 kWh lithium-ion battery from 20% to 80% in just 1 hour, the duration of a lunch break, thus enabling continuous use throughout the working day. 

The new electric compact wheel loader, 100% Made in Italy, highlights CNH’s commitment to investing in technologies for the development of alternative and sustainable propulsion, while reaffirming the strategic centrality of the Lecce plant in the company’s production landscape.

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