In the Know

Choosing Between Electric Drive, Auto Shift, and Traditional Powershift

Are you having trouble choosing between electric drive, auto shift, and traditional powershift? Hawthorne Cat can help you weigh your options and make the best choice for your operation. Here are answers to some common questions:

How does electric drive work?
The engine drives a generator that turns mechanical engine power into electricity, while an electric motor powers the final drives. A power inverter is also connected to the generator and motor with heavy-duty power cables to control the electricity flow between the two units. As a result, the electric motor can operate at all ground speeds to ensure the machine is always performing at maximum efficiency.

What are the advantages for electric drive?
Increased operation and fuel efficiency are the most significant advantages of electric drive. Electric drive systems reach these gains by allowing the engine to consistently work within a limited speed range. The continuously variable electric drivetrain can fluctuate torque distribution to the final drives with minimal change to engine speed and work in its most efficient speed range, reducing fuel consumption and extending the life of your engine.

How do new powertrain options compare to traditional transmissions?
The Cat D6 is a fully automatic, 4-speed power shift transmission that delivers up to a 20% improvement in fuel efficiency over the D6T by reducing momentary hesitation when shifting to maintain momentum and power throughout the entire push. The auto shift functionality works up and down the working range for optimized power and fuel consumption over a greater percentage of the time.

The next generation Cat D6 XE is the world’s first high drive, electric drive dozer offering up to 35% better fuel efficiency than other dozer models. The combination of constant power to the ground, continuous push, and better maneuverability results in faster cycle times. Plus, electric drive’s simpler system has 90% fewer moving parts than a traditional powershift transmission, which reduces maintenance and repair costs. Although you’ll need to spend more upfront for the D6 XE, you can expect to earn back your initial investment in two years or less.

When would I choose electric drive versus automatic shifting?
Choosing between electric drive and automatic shifting really depends on your specific operation needs and goals. If your job demands the highest level of productivity and lower fuel consumption, electric drive may be your best option. However, both power trains are easy to operate without the hassle of having to shift. The operator simply sets the ground speed, while the dozer automatically optimizes itself for maximum power, productivity, and fuel efficiency based on load.

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