Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Japan's Komatsu Ltd takes the lead in producing fuel efficient large vehicle

The soaring price of oil is forcing major changes in all the industries around the globe. Now, it is the large size construction and mining vehicle industry such as bulldozers, front-end loaders, excavators, caterpillar makers that are thinking of building hybrid vehicles. This time also Japanese companies are taking the lead. Komatsu Ltd.(TYO: 6301) the world’s second largest maker of earth-moving machines launched the first hybrid hydraulic excavator. The 20 ton vehicle comes with a traditional diesel engine with a capacitor and a battery-like electronic device. It will consume 25% less fuel than other models but it has a hefty price tag of $260,000 which is 50% higher than the price of conventional vehicles. Guardian reports:

Big global and local rivals Caterpillar Inc, Volvo AB, Hitachi Construction Machinery Co and Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd are also pushing into the hybrid space with plans to being production this year or next.

But the companies, and their investors, will have to wait some time before they see a steady flow of orders as buyers steel themselves to pay higher prices, analysts said.

Toyota Motor Corp's premium-priced Prius hybrid car business took seven to eight years before the new car started generating any profit, analysts said, but now dealers are having a hard time keeping up with the orders.

Komatsu is now planning to mass produce its new hybrid hydraulic excavator. In the first phase, the company is hoping to sell 30 vehicles in Japan within March 2009.

As developed countries are imposing higher emission standards, industrial vehicle producers are working hard to produce fuel-efficient vehicles with less Carbon emission. After 2011, Europe and the USA would adopt emission standards that would impose a 90% cut in exhaust emissions from non-road diesel engine. This means, companies have to come up with new technologies to build better engines.

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