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JCB's electric digger scoops up prestigious engineering award

Professional Engineering

The world’s first electric digger has won the MacRobert Award for engineering innovation.

JCB received the award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for its 19C-1E digger, in recognition of the achievement of creating a powerful construction vehicle powered by an electric battery, which has the potential to become a catalyst for change in a highly polluting industry.

The 19C-1E is the world’s first fully electric digger to be produced at scale, and has already saved more than 15,100kg of CO2 emissions over 5616 hours of work. These savings could reach billions of tonnes if used across the global construction industry, which contributes 39 per cent of all carbon emissions. The machine is also quieter, so could be useful for construction in areas where noise must be kept to a minimum.

The winning team receive a gold medal and a £50,000 prize.

“JCB’s electric digger is a huge engineering achievement,” says Sir Richard Friend, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel. “The team has developed all parts of the electric propulsion system to deliver system performance that matches real customer requirements. This is a huge achievement in itself, but the additional benefits of zero exhaust emissions and much lower noise has lifted the 19C-1E excavator to a new level. The digger is more than a great bit of engineering, however. It has the power to be the catalyst for change in an industry that is responsible for around 10% of all of the UK’s carbon emissions.” 

JCB chairman Lord Bamford also praised the winning team: Tim Burnhope FREng, Chief Innovation Officer, Bob Womersley, Director of Advanced Engineering, Lee Harper, Chief Engineer – Electrified Machines, Lee Milward, Design Manager, and Corey Smith, Test and Development Manager.

“To win one of the world’s most respected engineering prizes is an outstanding endorsement for JCB’s electrification team, who have achieved so much in applying a science which was new to our business,” he said. “JCB’s electric mini excavator will contribute to a zero carbon future and help make the world more sustainable. It’s a huge honour for our contribution to be recognised in this way.” 

JCB’s electric digger was selected by the MacRobert Award judging panel in competition with the other shortlisted finalists: the all-electric I-PACE sports utility vehicle from Jaguar Land Rover and ecoSMRT® liquid natural gas reliquification technology from Babcock’s LGE business.


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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. 

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