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Caterpillar unveils electric mining truck built in Tucson area

Caterpillar Inc. has successfully demonstrated its first battery electric large mining truck and announced a significant investment to transform its Tucson Proving Ground into a sustainable testing and validation hub.

Caterpillar staff and representatives of key mining customers recently witnessed a live demonstration of Caterpillar’s prototype battery truck on a 4.3-mile course at its Tucson Proving Ground, which is in Green Valley.

Fully loaded to its rated capacity, the model 793 haul truck achieved a top speed of 37.3 mph and traveled one kilometer (0.62 mile) up a 10% grade at 7.5 mph, Caterpillar said.

Watch a test drive of Caterpillar's first battery electric mining haul truck at the Tucson Proving Ground in Green Valley.

The truck also performed a one-kilometer run on a 10% downhill grade, capturing the energy and regenerating it to the battery while maintaining enough charge for additional complete cycles, the company said.

Caterpillar developed the electric truck prototype with support from key mining customers participating in Caterpillar’s “Early Learner” customer collaboration program, including Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan BHP, Newmont Corp., Rio Tinto and Teck Resources Ltd.

The program, launched in 2021, focuses on accelerating the development and validation of Caterpillar’s battery electric trucks at participating customers’ sites.

“This demonstration is a significant milestone, and we are excited for these trucks to get to work at customers’ sites around the world in the near future,” Caterpillar Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson said in a news release.

The prototype truck was built at Caterpillar’s Tucson Proving Ground, where Caterpillar announced it is investing to transform the proving ground into a working, sustainable “mine site of the future” by installing and using a variety of renewable energy sources.

The company says it will install the latest sustainable technologies, including “green” hydrogen production, natural gas, 100% hydrogen reciprocating engine power generation and fuel cell power generation as well as expanded energy-storage systems.

The Green Valley site, which also includes the Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Learning Center, will also use a variety of renewable power sources, including wind, solar and hydrogen, capable of powering the facility and its products as they become electrified, the company said.

Future plans include expanding an existing 750-kilowatt solar array to 2 megawatts, installing two wind turbines to generate about 3MW, and 18 megawatt-hours of on-site battery storage.

Caterpillar, which opened a major mining technology center on the west side of downtown Tucson in 2019, also plans to install equipment to make hydrogen to test fuel-cell trucks.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at or 520-573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook:

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David joined the Star in 1997, after working as a consumer and business reporter in Phoenix for more than a decade. A graduate of Ohio University, he has covered most business beats focusing on technology, defense and utilities. He has won several awards.

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