Regularly readers of my Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week column will know that I usually dig around Chinese shopping sites to find the wackiest and coolest little EVs in the world. That’s resulted in finding everything from electric submarines to mini electric Jeeps. But this time I’d say that today’s vehicles are less weird and more awesome, especially if you’ve been looking for your own electrically-powered construction equipment for your property or work site. These little electric mini loaders could be the perfect size for hobby farms and small ranches. And they’re pretty darn affordable, too!
I’ve looked into electric loaders before, and even covered another one over a year ago. But electric mini loaders from China have come a long way, as you can see by the latest models.
I stumbled upon this company Aolite, which manufacturers a pile of construction equipment from pint-sized to massive. They’ve expanded into electrically-powered construction equipment lately and two of their loaders have caught my eye.
Their first model, which seems to be produced by a number of sources, is the Aolite 604. It’s a 1,120 kg (2,470 lb) mini loader that can lift up to 400 kg (880 lb) in its front bucket. It zips around at between 10-18 km/h (6-11 mph) depending on what gear you keep it in, and gets powered by a pair of 1800W motors for the four-wheel-drive system. A third 3,000W motor runs the hydraulic system, which includes a third circuit (in addition to the lifting and dumping circuit) to create a quick hitch system or power hydraulic accessories like gripper buckets, digger attachments, etc.
The lead acid batteries aren’t fancy, but they help add to the ballast weight and give the electric loader a run time of 6-7 hours. And of course the lack of a diesel engine has a long list of advantages. You don’t spend hours on end breathing in a toxic cloud of carcinogens, you don’t have to wear ear protection to avoid slowly going deaf, the entire vehicle isn’t vibrating the entire time, and it can even be used indoors for interior demolitions and reconstruction!
For those that want something even bigger, the Aolite 606 loader is nearly twice the size, weighing in at 2,050 kg (4,520 lb). It has a more powerful lifting capacity of up to 700 kg (1,540 lb) from a larger bucket. The two drive motors are each 3,500W, with a larger 5,000W motor powering the hydraulic system.
And check out how affordable these little loaders are. The smaller electric mini loader model is priced at US $4,900 for a single unit, though the price drops to US $4,500 if you buy ten of them.
The 606 loader is a bit pricer, coming in at US $8,300 for a single unit. Just like the 604 model, the price drops as you buy more. Pick up eight of these bad boys and they’re a modest US $7,500 a piece. For comparison, a similarly spec’d diesel-powered Bobcat L23 articulated loader is priced at around US $40,000.
Both of these loaders come with a ton of optional accessories (that each cost several hundred dollars) and that can be swapped in place of the traditional loader bucket. Unfortunately they are’t compatible with each other due to the 606’s larger size.
They’ve got grass forks, pallet forks, grapple buckets, snow sweepers/plows/blowers, concrete mixing buckets, grain buckets, augers, hammers, 4-in-1 buckets, barrel clamps, and more!
The company even has an articulating electric fork lift built on a similar chassis, though I’m not sure I can find as many uses for a fork lift.
Since the loaders can come with a pallet fork for an extra couple hundred bucks, you can easily turn them into small fork lifts, even if they don’t have the same lifting height as the real fork lift offered by Aolite.
Now here’s the thing: as my regular readings will again already know, most of the time I just enjoy finding fun EVs on Alibaba by window shopping, but I’ve been known to actually buy the ones that really strike my fancy. That how I wound up with an electric mini truck and a 5-seater electric boat, among other odd purchases.
And now I’m seriously considering getting an electric mini loader. For context: my parents own a small ranch with 10 acres of land, which is where my mini-truck lives out its days as a work truck (which is good since it’s not technically street-legal). An electric loader that does overtime as a small tractor would be useful to have on the property, and these might fit the bill.
So I’ve inquired about what goes into buying one of these, which led me down a road to realize I’m probably getting in over my head — but that’s fine, I’ll just buy a snorkel too.
The company’s sales rep “Alison” has been helping me, and she’s a peach. I didn’t even tell her I’m internet famous for buying questionable stuff on Alibaba or that I write this column, but she’s been helping me figure out all the options for models, accessories, packing and shipping to the US.
You see, you can’t just buy one of these since most freight companies won’t let you do LCL (less than container load) shipping, which is where the cargo is just tossed in a shared container and you only pay for the space you take up. That’s how I shipped my boat from China, but that only weighed 400-something-pounds.
So basically, I’d need to import an entire container of these electric mini loaders if I wanted one. A full 40ft container would fit 10 of the smaller loaders or 8 of the bigger loaders. That’s a bit much for me, but it turns out you can get a half-sized 20ft container that will fit four of either model.
The only problem is I don’t need four. I need one. Or maybe two, if I want one of the big ones and one of the little ones. I don’t know what I’d do with four electric mini loaders. Maybe buy a 6-ft beach ball and play 2-on-2 loader soccer with them?
That’s a bridge I’m still trying to figure out how to cross. If anyone lives within trucking range of South Florida and wants to buy a mini loader, talk to me.
I’m not sure how far I plan to go down this rabbit hole, but the more I look at these things, and the more I watch videos like the one below, the more I start to wonder how I’ve made it this far in life without my own backyard electric mini loader. There’s a decent chance you’ll see me in another month or so with a follow up article: Oops, I bought a container load of Chinese construction equipment.