Caterpillar excavator
The Next Generation Offers a Ton of Standard Features like Stick Steer

Manufacturing of Caterpillar mini hydraulic excavators began with an 8-metric-ton machine in Japan in 1987. Seven years later, the machines were introduced in North America. Last year, Caterpillar released 10 new models in its Next Generation machine line that all boast standard features you might otherwise see as options on other units — like a big LCD monitor, Stick Steer (explained below), automatic two-speed travel, AC on a micro machine and loads more. Four years in the making, these Next Gen models were codesigned by dealers and customers, noted Cat.

The 10 new Cat Next Generation excavators cover two ranges — 1- to 2-ton and 7- to 10-ton variants. On the micro side, there’s the 301.5, 301.7 CR, 301.8 and 302 CR. Dig depths are 7 ft, 8 in. or 7 ft, 9 in., depending on the model, and an available long stick increases depth to 8 ft, 4 in. or 8 ft, 5 in. Rubber track undercarriages are standard, with steel tracks available for all models. The expandable undercarriages (standard for all models) narrow to allow the new machines to enter worksites through restricted access points, then extend to provide a stable work platform. Undercarriages for all models, except the 302 CR, retract from 51.2 to 39 in.; the 302 CR retracts from 55.1 to 42.9 in. Cat says all of these units have four industry-first features as standard: Stick Steer (an exclusive feature that allows the operator to switch, with the touch of a button, from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to left-hand joystick control); cruise control: LCD monitor; and flip-up cab with AC. Cat is noting that it’s the first manufacturer to put air conditioning on all mini excavators down to 1.8 tons. The cab, optional on the 301.8 and 302 CR, is pressurized and sealed to reduce dust intrusion. The cab or canopy also tilts up for great access to maintenance points and parts.

Most of these features also come standard on the six new models in the 7- to 10-ton category. That new lineup includes the: 307.5, 308 CR, 308 CR VAB, 309 CR, 309 CR VAB and the 310. These bigger new models have standard dig depths from 13 ft, 5 in. to 17 ft. Three models — 307.5, 308 CR and 309 CR — are available with a long-stick option (and the 310 comes with a long stick only), increasing dig depth.

Overall, there are currently 18 Cat compact excavator variants available in North America, ranging from the 300.9D that weighs less than 1 metric ton to the new 310, which is an 10-metric-ton machine. Cat offers as standard or as an option on most models: blade float; auto two speed; an integrated rear camera; a certified lifting eye; fingertip controls; thumb readiness; retained blade extensions; automatic courtesy safety lighting; hydraulic couplers; and a front shovel all designed to keep the customer safe, productive and efficient as he or she conducts their daily work. With so many models and options, make sure you do your research to select the best fit. The best place to start is your local Cat dealer.

Advice to Buyers

“There are a lot of new products with new features, benefits and increased performance hitting the market right now,” says Greg Worley, senior project engineer with Caterpillar. “Make sure you understand how these features will benefit you, the customer. Especially when it comes to giving you a better experience with more productivity and efficiency from your machine. As well as doing your research to understand all the updates, make sure you take the time to demo the different mini excavator models.”

Learn more about Caterpillar here.

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