MINI AGRI-E: the customisable, flexible electric telehandler that puts the customer at the centre
Cost-effectiveness, innovation and sustainability are the three pillars of DIECI-E, the major new project launched by DIECI in October 2023 and aimed at the agricultural and industrial markets. It is an important long-term investment that has now led to the creation of the first 100% electric telehandler, the Mini Agri-e, which offers both versatile performance and totally green power, with no compromises.
Let’s discover the world of DIECI-E and the future outlook together with Project Manager Davide Comastri.
What is your role within the company? What does your job consist of?
As project manager, I am responsible for designing, developing and managing a number of product families in the DIECI range, overseeing every aspect of their development from the initial idea through to production. At the moment, I am overseeing the development of products linked to the field of innovation and energy transition, specifically the world of DIECI-E.
How is your experience within DIECI? And your team?
DIECI’s approach differs from that of many other companies. Here we have the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment, which enables us to compare and approach numerous different aspects and deliver real added value within the individual projects. This motivates people to make a genuine contribution and challenge themselves by fully understanding the goal of their work.
In part, this is also the reason behind the resounding success of DIECI-E. In recent years, the company has invested heavily in its in-house Research and Development department, by building a young, ambitious, innovative, multidisciplinary and cohesive team. The team is fundamental and forms the basis of this type of work: only by working well together is it possible to achieve the results and objectives that we set ourselves.
DIECI-E is the revolutionary project unveiled in recent weeks by DIECI. This major innovation includes hybrid vehicles and, for the first time, 100% electric telehandlers. How did this important project come about? How was the research and development phase carried out, and with which internal resources and/or partners, if any?
The idea of focusing on electrification through a wide-ranging project was based mainly on interpretation of market trends, which currently show that there is increased demand for electrified products with no performance limitations. The research and development phase involved different areas of expertise but with a constant focus on the agricultural and industrial sectors. The objective was to design a range of customised products suitable for every type of need.
The DIECI-E range was mainly developed in-house, taking advantage of all the expertise of our engineers and technicians. We also had the support of our most trusted suppliers and partners, with whom we have been developing customised solutions for a long time.
The most important innovation is undoubtedly the Mini Agri-e full electric telehandler, which premiered at Agritechnica 2023. What are its standout technical features?
The main technical features that distinguish the Mini Agri-e full electric telehandler are its high performance and modular concept. These are specific features designed to meet the needs of different customers and markets, while minimising compromises.
The basic platform is a high-performance telehandler that is easily configurable, to satisfy the operational needs of individual customers. Furthermore, the structure of the Mini Agri-e also allows for post-sale customisation, unlike similar products already on the market.
The Mini Agri-e was developed with both eyes firmly on the needs of the current market. For this reason, its launch is accompanied by an important innovation, the E-Modular Power Pack, a plug-in unit that makes the telehandler modular. What does this mean and what benefits does it introduce?
The E-Modular Power Pack is part of the modular concept of this 100% electric telehandler. The aim is to respond to different needs by being able to:
- change the number of batteries installed on the machine quickly and easily, including post-sale;
- embrace future green developments, ensuring flexibility between the classic and electric models. Various innovative patents are pending on the vehicle, including one relating to the hydrogen batteries.
The customer is the driver of every idea and project underpinning DIECI-E. All the solutions that make these telehandlers customisable and flexible were implemented in order to respond to all potential needs, giving users access to the best performing electrical solution based on their short-and long-term requirements.
What is the significance of offering customers electric telehandlers that stand out for their flexibility and customisation potential?
Telehandlers are by their very nature extremely flexible vehicles, especially when it comes to agriculture. In farming applications they can be used continuously, occasionally or seasonally. A classic diesel telehandler performs this job with ease, adapting to the customer’s operational needs.
In the case of electric telehandlers, battery life plays a key role. Thanks to the flexibility of Mini Agri-E, customers can determine and install the number of batteries they actually need, according to their operational needs, even while out in the field. In this way, the operator no longer needs to adapt to the telehandler. In fact, it’s the other way round.
The Mini Agri-e guarantees:
- Extended durability, should it be necessary to perform more intense and ongoing tasks;
- Battery pack expansion including out in the field, to meet specific needs;
- Optimal return on investment, thanks to the possibility of expanding the number of batteries post-sale;
- Possibility of integration with solutions currently under development, allowing further optimisation and long-term investment.
From a technological point of view, which innovative DIECI solutions enable this change of approach?
The innovation encompasses the design of the vehicle layout itself, starting from the position of the components and the development of a dedicated electric platform, right down to the selection of suitable components for this purpose.
On the Mini Agri-e there are solutions linked to three patent applications, regarding:
- the position and quick disassembly of the batteries;
- optimisation of the vehicle’s hydraulic control for energy saving;
- the modular concept itself, including features that will be added at a later time.
Each of these aspects required the development of dedicated solutions in order to ensure added value for the customer.
With the Mini Agri-e, DIECI has electrified one of its most popular models. Which customer base is this 100% green telehandler aimed at?
Mini Agri-e is an excellent solution for both the agricultural and industrial markets. Certainly northern European countries—which are leading the transition towards eco-friendly mobility—are an excellent target, but so too is the Italian market, especially the rental segment. The product was created with the aim of offering an innovative solution to a broad range of customers, by striving to maximise the range of tasks that can be performed with this vehicle.
Can this telehandler’s modular technology also interest and influence the short- and long-term rental sector? If yes, in what way?
The Mini Agri-e fits perfectly into the rental sector, opening new scenarios and potentially expanding the number and type of players involved.
One important aspect has to do with battery recharging. The Mini Agri-e is designed to be powered by different electrical sources, whether it be a standard charging post, or a wall socket in a domestic or industrial setting. The customer can therefore opt for the power supply mode that best suits their needs.
Thanks to the specific features of the DIECI electric telehandler, such as the modular system and easy battery replacement, rental firms can offer their customers something different to what is already on the market, thereby significantly increasing the added value of their vehicle stock.
A year ago, you oversaw the Hybrid Boost System project, winner in the EIMA – Technical Innovation Awards, and a hybrid solution aimed at the agricultural market, in the form of the Agri Farmer Hybrid. Within this constantly evolving context, what are the elements that make a solution like this preferable to traditional telehandlers?
The advantage of the Hybrid Boost System is that you get the same performance as a more powerful vehicle but with much lower running costs. The overriding concept of this product is affordability, especially in terms of the cost of ownership. To work out the cost of a product, you need to add together the price of the vehicle, the fuel cost and maintenance costs. The combination of these three factors gives you the cost of the product throughout its entire lifespan. In the case of hybrid telehandlers, the savings that customers obtain are self-evident: the vehicle is extremely efficient, like a diesel engine vehicle but with less delicate components and which require less maintenance compared with a diesel engine.
Thanks to these characteristics, the Agri Farmer Hybrid is proving to be an extremely advantageous solution for end customers, who are getting maximum return on their investment thank to the major short- and long-term benefits that this telehandler brings.
What can we expect from the future of DIECI-E for construction and agricultural telehandlers? In recent years, the R&D department has introduced many important innovations. What will the future challenges be?
Mini Agri-e is part of a larger project. The future of DIECI-E envisages the development and series production of at least two other electrified models, and we won’t have to wait too long for them.
From my point of view, the most difficult challenge will be linked to the speed and flexibility that a continuously evolving market requires. Innovation moves very fast and it is essential to keep up in order to respond promptly to market demands. Our strength is the quality and expertise of our team, which I am sure will once again be the added value that enables great results to be achieved.