Case Study, Earthmoving Machinery, Electric Wheel Loaders, LiuGong, Wheel loaders

LiuGong loaders electric trailblazers


By offering cutting-edge technologies such as electric and hybrid construction equipment, LiuGong aims to support Australia’s transition towards more sustainable and efficient construction practices.


Celebrating its 20th year of delivering machines into the Australian market, LiuGong has strategically expanded its presence in the country, establishing a strong foothold in the building and earthmoving industries.

Its diverse range of construction equipment, including excavators, wheel loaders, bulldozers, and compactors, has garnered attention for robust performance, fuel efficiency, and advanced features. Emphasis on product quality and durability has resonated well with Australian contractors and operators seeking reliable machinery capable of withstanding the country’s demanding working conditions.

LiuGong’s Service and Product Support Manager, Bob Bell, tells Earthmoving Equipment Magazine that the brand is well and truly established in Australia now.

“It has occurred over the past 15 years in Australia’s mature market. People in the construction and concrete industries are familiar with the brand and have seen or heard reports of the LiuGong product,” he said.

“We have a strong dealer presence in all states and have strong parts holdings in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth via our dealers and our subsidiary office established about a year ago.”

“It has been a long journey for brand recognition and LiuGong have invested strongly in dealers, parts support and people to attain the positive outcomes we are seeing now.”

And as LiuGong continues to grow its presence in the Australian market, the company remains committed to innovation and sustainability, aligning with the country’s evolving construction industry trends and regulations.

“As we believe the market for construction equipment will over time be electric or hybrid products, we need to be at the forefront of the electric vehicle (EV) market,” Bob said.

“The aftersales support and parts availability is of course critical to our customers or potential customers. This was one of the drivers in opening our subsidiary office in Melbourne in May last year.”

“Many customers now are looking at EV options –they may not be ready to purchase now but are interested and researching options in the market.”

“We know we can compete with any of our competitors on performance and cost of ownership. We are working towards having a comprehensive range of EV machines from wheel loaders, excavators and forklifts as we believe this will be the market development direction over the coming years.”

Michael Radford (left) and Bob Bell with the loader at the Holcim yards.

As part of this commitment, LiuGong developed an electric wheel loader, the 856HE.

As well as having zero tailpipe emissions, electric loaders offer several potential advantages over traditional diesel-powered counterparts; lower operating costs over their lifetime, quieter operation, and greater efficiency because of instant torque, providing excellent acceleration and response.

Many electric loaders also utilise regenerative braking systems, which capture energy during braking and convert it into electricity to recharge the battery. This feature can enhance overall efficiency and extend operating range.

“The LiuGong 856HE MAX wheel loader is a fully electric machine, with the high voltage side powered by CATL batteries (which are used in about 45 per cent of EVs worldwide),” Bob said.

“The high voltage side is turned on by the low voltage side at 24V. The operator station is very similar to the diesel units apart from a dash display that shows much more operating data than diesels.”

LiuGong carried out worldwide testing on the 856HE electric units before they were released to the market, and they have proven to be reliable and able to work up to 14 hours a shift before requiring to be charged. “This is more than adequate for our customer needs,” Bob said.

And this isn’t a standalone machine. LiuGong boasts the largest fully electric range of any OEM in the world.

“We have skid steer loaders, six different wheel loader models now, six different excavator models, and some other products like electric forklifts and scissor lifts,” Bob said.

Bob said the LiuGong 856HE MAX has already proven its reliability in the field, with more than 2000 electric wheel loaders operating in the world’s toughest conditions as of October 2022, and exponential growth is expected.

“Its reliability is reinforced by the IP67-rated wiring harness and waterproof integrated battery package. All of that is backed by a standard five-year or 10,000-hour warranty for the battery, motor, and controller,” he said.

The first purchaser of LiuGong EV wheel loaders in Australia was Holcim, a global leader in innovative and sustainable building materials.

LiuGong and the Holcim site team worked together for a two-month period so both parties could assess the machine’s performance.

“Cost-effectiveness, availability and performance data made the LiuGong product attractive to Holcim,” Bob said.

“We worked with the Holcim team from 2019 and they initially invested in four units in mid- 2022 and a further 12 units in mid-2023.”

“They trialled the 856HE wheel loader in July 2023 and purchased it in September. We believe this was the first five-tonne capacity full electric wheel loader sold in Australia – certainly into concrete batching plant applications.”

“The machine has built its own reliability reputation, and this has resonated in the concrete industry. We expect other concrete supply companies and general construction and waste recycling companies to be looking towards our EV fleets.”

The trial aimed to assess the feasibility and efficiency of using electric loaders in Holcim’s operations, with a focus on reducing emissions and promoting sustainable practices.

For the trial at Morwell, LiuGong and the Holcim site team worked together for a two- month period so both parties could assess the electric machine’s performance and confirm the operation times between charges.

Both companies collaborated closely to monitor and evaluate the performance of the electric loaders in various real-world scenarios, such as loading materials at construction sites and transporting aggregates within Holcim’s facilities. Comprehensive data collection allowed for a thorough analysis of key metrics, including energy consumption, uptime, productivity, and overall cost-effectiveness.

“Results showed the machine was more stable than the same diesel units because of the extra weight in batteries over the rear axle: the machine is much quieter than diesel machines and is favoured by operators,” Bob said.

“From the trial both parties were happy with the operation, charging and the electricity usage of around 21Kw/h.”

“The trial proved to the LiuGong Australia team and Holcim, as well as to the market, that we have a product that is acceptable for global companies that can operate for long shifts without charging, and has all the operator comforts the market expects, as well as being able to adequately meet the production targets set by our customers.”

“The outlook for the market is bright and will certainly move toward EV machines of all sizes — of necessity we are bringing in many of the LiuGong range of EV machines in preparation for the increased interest in zero emissions machines.”

“Our experience tells us we have the product but need to be proactive in the market and cater to our customers who may find the change from diesel to electric perhaps a little challenging.”

The 856HE worked long hours between charges at Holcim and could keep up with the production.

The Holcim experience

Holcim Australia is a leading supplier of aggregates, concrete, and concrete pipe and products, and one of the largest integrated suppliers and manufacturers of innovative and sustainable building materials and solutions in Australia and New Zealand, delivering construction materials since 1901.

The Australian operations include quarries, batching plants, manufacturing and corporate offices which employ more than 3700 people directly and indirectly.

Holcim Operations Manager for Gippsland East, Michael (Mick) Radford, said the company was committed to decarbonising its operations on the journey towards net-zero emissions.

“The use of zero-emission vehicles like the LiuGong FEL aligns with our roadmap, bringing us closer to achieving our goals,” he said.

And there were other features of the 856HE which impressed.

“It performed better than we all expected,” Mick said.

“The loader could work long hours between charges and could keep up with the production, which meant it didn’t have to stop in the middle of the day to charge up. That means the charging time is less, so the cost is less.”

“Electric machines, unlike diesel ones, also only need to be serviced every thousand hours,  so the maintenance cost is much lower. And you haven’t got things like oil filter changes and labour time to worry about.”

Mick was also pleased with the design that enables hydraulics to be programmed via software to harsher or softer levels.

“So we can make adjustments like the speed of the machine,” he said.

How fast or slow the compact articulated loader and its attachment can operate is dependent on how many litres of hydraulic fluid the machine can power per minute, referred to as feathering.

“The feathering control is perfect for Holcim as it is very strict about the overs and unders in their tonnages, and is in fact one of the key performance indicators,” Mick said.

“Getting the concrete batching accuracy is very important and critical to us making consistent concrete.”

The interior of the electric loader’s cab, which has all the operator comforts the market expects.

Mick was particularly pleased with the service aspect of LiuGong.

“When we first bought the LiuGong equipment, Bob and his team spent a lot of time with us, checking that all was good and coping with any problems that arose,” he said.

“After a couple of months, you’d think that this level of service would fade away, but not so … I’d still be getting phone calls every couple of weeks checking on any issues.”

“They took all feedback on board. The level of support is outstanding.”




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