ADD one of forestry’s biggest names to the growing list of manufacturers with an eco-conscious solution. Ponsse, the brand behind the Elk, Buffalo and Elephant ranges, has produced a new concept, boldly said to provide a “peek into the future”. 

Developed as a 15-tonne load-carrying forwarder, the EV1 hybrid features a fully electric powertrain, which operates solely with battery energy, and a diesel engine to charge the generator. Said to provide a “tangible step” towards the company’s goal of carbon neutrality, the machine is the result of three years of development alongside Epec, a system supplier of ‘advanced electrics’ and subsidiary of Ponsse. 

Read more about Ponsse's new EV1: 

When it was unveiled last month, officials at both firms said the concept – which will be available commercially at a later date – will pave the way for technological growth and sustainable harvesting solutions. 

On the day of its announcement, Forestry Journal joined publications from around the world at a press launch event, with Juho Nummela, president and CEO of Ponsse, and Jyri Kylä-Kaila, managing director of Epec, talking the virtual room through the ins and outs of the EV1. 

Forestry Journal:

After an initial overview of Ponsse, Juho spoke of the firm’s ambition to keep pace with so-called ‘megatrends’ in the industry, which included climate change. Determined to be the “preferred partner for sustainable forestry”, the firm hopes the EV1 will be just the “starting point”, with more innovation on the way. 

One of the key features on the machine, Juho said, is the ‘Range Extender’, which is the firms’ solution to working out in the forest where charging points aren’t readily available.

In essence, this is a diesel motor that charges the generator, working, Juho and Jyri said, around 50 per cent of the time. But, they stressed, all of the machine’s operations are carried out fully by the electric motor. 

As a result, the EV1 is estimated to consume 20 per cent less fuel than current models, and it’s hoped future concepts will include more eco-savvy options, such as a hydrogen engine. 

Elsewhere, the concept features Epec Flow, Epec’s electromobility system solution. The solution is based on the Epec Flow Power Distribution Unit (PDU), to which electric motors, batteries and various devices can be connected. 

Once the presentation was over, members of the press – which included multiple trade publications – were invited to ask any questions ...

Question (asked by Forestry Journal): What do you expect the running costs to be, compared to existing models? 
Answer, Juho: The machine will be a little bit more expensive, for sure. But then the total cost of ownership will be less. We try to get the fuel consumption down, the service costs down. Right now we are experimenting and seeing what mathematics are behind it. We don’t know yet and [the creation of the product] is just starting. Price level is unknown but total cost of ownership will have a big impact. 
A, Jyri: We try to lower significantly the total cost of ownership with this machine. 

Forestry Journal: Juho Nummela, president and CEO of Ponsse,Juho Nummela, president and CEO of Ponsse,

Q (FJ): Is there a harvester model in the works? 
A, Juho: We are studying a harvester version. The workload is totally different from a forwarder. This needs to be studied a little bit more, and let’s see.
A, Jyri: There are a lot of technical challenges related to the harvester head, such as how to electrify it. There is a lot of potential, but it’s complex.
Q (Other press): Why is there a diesel engine instead of full electric? Malwa (Electric Combi) has this technology. 
A, Jyri: We could install a big battery and use only battery, and maybe make a battery swap system as well. At this point, it wasn’t the optimal solution for us because this is quite a lot heavier. We don’t think operating with really heavy batteries in the forest is the way to go at this point. 

Forestry Journal:

Q (OP): When will the machine be ready? 
A, Juho: This is a concept right now. The process will start here in Vieremä. It will take some years, and we don’t have a date for when serial production will begin. But we will have prototypes out. This is something we will start working with. 

Q (OP): How many hours can the machine run without using the diesel engine? 
A, Jyri: Currently, we are not using it fully charged. We are using it from approximately 40 to 80 per cent charge. If we would use the whole machine, it is possible to operate for 35 minutes or so only using the battery. Now we are operating it in a way that gives us 15 to 20 minutes with diesel and 15 to 20 minutes of only electric. That’s the work cycle right now. 
A, Juho: All the energy is coming from the batteries to the machine. The diesel motor charges the battery. The generator is around 100 kW.
A, Jyri: We are using less diesel to produce 1 kW of energy. 

Q (OP): How would you describe the cooperation between Ponsse and Epec? And the workload you have had over the last few years?
A, Jyri: It has been really great for the team to work together. We have a really great team here that has developed this machine. Most of the work has been done by the software development. We still have a lot of testing here before we can launch the real production machine. We need to ensure customers get the best product.
A, Juho: It’s almost 35,000 hours or something.

Forestry Journal: Jyri Kylä-Kaila, managing director of EpecJyri Kylä-Kaila, managing director of Epec

Q (FJ): Where can you charge the batteries in the forest?
A, Juho: The ‘Range Extender’ is diesel but it can be something else. That’s how we can secure the operation in the forest environment.
A, Jyri: In the operation, you don’t have to charge the battery at all. This machine consumes 20 per cent less fuel without charging the battery. You can charge but that’s mainly for service purposes.