Making it Work

Multihog plans electric future for its vehicle range

Irish multi-purpose tractor manufacturer Multihog is aiming to unveil its first electric model at the end of this year and has plans for more EVs in the future

Jim McAdam, founder and chief executive of Multihog, whose range of machines includes vehicles and applications for street sweeping, snow ploughing or landscaping. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

Multihog, the multi-purpose tractor manufacturer based in Dundalk, is hoping to unveil its first fully electric street sweeper later this year as it continues to look to the future.

Its range of machines is designed and constructed completely in-house and includes four different vehicle types and a number of applications for street sweeping, snow ploughing or landscaping.

Fact File

Company: Multihog

Founded by: Jim McAdam in 2008

Staff: 105

Turnover: €33 million

So far, all products are powered by diesel engines with 75 or 130 horsepower. The switch to an electric product creates significant challenges for the development team.

Jim McAdam, founder and chief executive of Multihog, said: “Electric components such as the battery are heavier, and that makes it more complicated to stay within certain weight constraints.“

The new electric street sweeper is based on Multihog’s smallest existing model which is designed for paths and can not breach a weight of 3.5 tonnes.

“Sweeping is a fairly power-hungry operation,” McAdam said. “The motor has to power a strong fan during the cleaning process. After that the battery still has to have enough energy to ensure the machine can return to the depot at public road speeds.”

Multihog delivers to 35 countries, with the biggest markets in the US and Britain.

The decision to start developing an electric vehicle came in response to a stream of requests, most of which came from the US.

“We were honestly not expecting the US market to be the biggest driver behind the EV demand,” McAdam said. “Especially markets in California were practically screaming for it.”

McAdam sees the increased pressure on municipal governments to lower their emissions footprint as the main reason for this spike in demand.

To further serve this market, Multihog plans to use the newly achieved expertise to expand the electrification of its other models. Enterprise Ireland participated in the funding of the development through its R&D Fund.

“Enterprise Ireland has been involved along the whole way of Multihog,” McAdam said. “Their expertise helped us to get in touch with our first two dealerships, one of which is still in business with us.”

Today the company employs 105 people and produces in a 89,000 square feet facility. The company’s yearly turnover is €33 million.

McAdam already had a background in specialised vehicles when he founded Multihog. Before setting up the business he was the managing director of Moffett Engineering, a Dundalk-based forklift company which is specialised in truck-mounted forklifts and now known as Cargotec Ireland.

The first-ever prototype was presented at the Agritechnica in Hanover, Germany, in 2008. Only four years later, the Business Post reported that Multihog secured a deal with the city of Vancouver to deliver snow and ice removal machines.

Back then, the company only employed 32 people. The steady growth enjoyed until then suddenly halted with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In 2020 when Covid hit and many of our main customer targets such as airports, ski resorts and construction sites shut, we saw a huge fall in demand,” said McAdams.

“Coincidentally, in line with Covid and the increase in biking and walking in cities, the demand for our sweeper shot up and we pivoted the business to focus on producing these machines, which now account for over half our sales.”