If you think battery-operated vehicles are underpowered, slow on the flat and sluggish on hills, it’s time you tried this truck. Sit back and hold on to your hat —this machine has powerful acceleration, races along on the flat and is strong on banks. The e2050 is a mid-duty utility with a 48V, 500-amp drive train to give it good hill-climbing ability, even when hauling a full 363kg load.
But not everyone wants to race. Sometimes it is positively advantageous to limit speed — and you can do that with the e2050. This machine has a lockable “supervisor switch” that controls the maximum speed at which employees can drive the vehicle.
Normally, the Workman will do about 25km/h flat out in full speed mode. For a novice driver or someone a little bit heavy-footed, the vehicle can be restricted to half that speed.
“It’s often a problem with vehicles that are so easy to drive that a trainee will jump into the seat and race away without having gained a full appreciation of the vehicle or the terrain. This is an excellent idea to slow them down until they become competent,” says our tester. And driving the e2050 is pure simplicity. Just turn the key and depress the pedal. A switch gives reverse.
Another excellent safety feature is the anti-run-away device. If you park on a slope and get off the vehicle without fully engaging the handbrake, as soon as the machine starts to roll forward it beeps loudly and puts on the brake.
For travel across rough terrain, the Workman has another trick up its sleeve. It is fitted with Toro’s Active In-Frame suspension. A pivot joint allows each axle to act independently from the other, so all forward wheels stay where they should be — on the ground.
You might argue that a problem with some battery-operated vehicles is that they simply stop when they are out of juice — and then how do you get the machine home? This shouldn’t be an issue with the e2050. For a start, there is a gauge to let you know how much power is remaining in the battery. It’s very simple to read, resembling a mobile-phone battery indicator. A red warning light then tells you when there is only a quarter of the battery life remaining.
Then, in case you’re not a fuel-gauge-watcher, the unit limits the top speed and acceleration when the level becomes significantly low. You can’t say you weren’t warned. There’s a noticeable change in forward speed and you know it’s time to return to the workshop in “limp home mode”. The charger is plugged in under the seat and while it is charging, a plug detector prevents the machine from being driven away.
You can also top this machine up without damaging the battery. Whenever you get the chance, plug it in. For a complete charge, leave it plugged in overnight and it cuts itself off when full.
There are two types of battery — standard and heavy-duty. The latter is more for contractors loading sand and soil, but it does not give a longer running time. What does impress us, however, is the way some power is fed back into the battery while the vehicle is working. The e2050 has a regenerating braking system, so that when you are free-wheeling or braking, charge is put back into the battery as a little top-up.
“We are told it should last a day and a half without re-charging — that’s good,” says the tester. “All in all, this is a good quality vehicle, extremely easy to drive, comfortable and a really smooth ride. Some excellent technology has gone into it and it has the advantage of being quiet, with no emissions. I like it.”
Options include box lift, heavy-duty rear hitch, cab, heavy-duty bumper and lighting kit. And yes, the Workman e2050 does have cup holders.
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