RAC Club Dewar award 2019 goes to JCB for electric digger

Yesterday we were guests at the 2019 Dewar Trophy award presented and hosted by the RAC club in Pall Mall.

While this may not be a well know award to the general public it is highly respected within UK industry.  The RAC Dewar Trophy is awarded for ‘Outstanding Technical Achievement in the British Automotive Industry’. Revered as one of the most prestigious awards in British engineering, the Club’s Dewar Trophy is presented only in years when the Club’s expert committee believes that there are contenders of sufficient merit. This is one such year.

The 2019 Dewar Trophy was awarded to JCB for the development and introduction into the market of the JCB 19C-1E electric mini excavator – the construction industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. As a result, JCB becomes one of the few companies, in the 113-year history of the Trophy, to have won it more than once.


If the name sounds familiar the Dewar Trophy was first presented by Tommy Dewar who after success with developing the export market his family, John Dewar & Sons, Ltd. Whisky business. After his father’s death, Tommy worked with his brother at the head of the firm, investing his charisma and business acumen to great effect and making Dewar’s a global success. Visiting 26 countries, over the course of two years, the Dewar’s brand was put on the map as one of the premiere Scotch Whiskies. Dewar himself meanwhile kept a journal of his travels which were consolidated and published in the book titled, Ramble Round the Globe.


With his travelling days behind him, Dewar entered political life; being elected as the Conservative member for Tower Hamlets in 1900. He successfully bred racehorses and sponsored prizes for association football and cycling as well as taking a keen interest in the burgeoning automotive industry and inaugurating the Dewar Trophy.


The award:

John Wood MBE, Chairman of the Dewar Technical Committee, said:

Awarding the 2019 trophy to JCB was a unanimous decision by the Dewar Technical Committee. The JCB 19C-1E is unique in the application of electric powertrain technology in the mini excavator market. 

“As one would expect from a company like JCB, it has come about as a result of a thoroughly well thought out and properly executed development process based on a clear appreciation of the market needs, usage profiles and the particular advantages that the emerging technology can offer.  It represents a bold commitment to the introduction of novel technology in the off-road sector”. 

The Dewar Trophy was presented to Bob Womersley, JCB’s Director of Advanced Engineering. He said: “The 19C-IE is the construction industry’s first fully electric mini excavator to go into production. It has been a huge success and has a very promising future ahead of it. To win this award in the first few weeks of production is absolutely tremendous.”

The 19C-1E is a staggering five times quieter than its diesel counterpart and can be fully charged in under two hours. The model is expected to be a big hit with companies working inside buildings and in emissions and noise-sensitive inner-city areas. Fully charged, the 19C-1E can put in a typical full day’s shift for a mini excavator.

Product specs:

This snappily named 19C-1E is a 1 tonne mini digger that is 100% Electric or more accurately 100% EV that powers the hydraulics that move the digger. The electric power is hugely beneficial for certain market sectors.

Key benefits include:

Zero emissions: So ideal for indoor use, underground and small spaces and in the growing number of cities that are becoming diesel free zones.

Low noise: Ideal for small, indoor or confined spaces. Even in the wild of a building site it makes the site easier on the neighbours’ ears and could expand the working day with reduced noise limitations.

Reduced running costs: with less maintenance, diesel and reduced daily checks, saving time at the start of each shift.

The EV side is not dissimilar to the technology used in the Nissan LEAF and comprises a 48 Volt battery pack, with on-board 3KW charger giving a day’s charge in 8 hours. With an optional 3 phase 380 Volt this drops to 2 hours.

JCB claim the pack will provide enough power for a day of hard work. These machines typically do not travel very far or fast. They do however dig up and down a great deal and Bob, the lead engineer stressed the eclectic digger was more than capable to handle this workload. His development team has real world experience with a dozen or so of development units and some clever machine telematics, JCB live-link, that reports back to JCB the machines usage, power flow and one assumes plenty of other data on the pack’s performance.

Bob was also eager to stress the company’s commitment to systems efficiency has been a 10-year journey and the 19C is the first EV product from JCB to hit the market from this efficiency drive. The efficiency focus has been aimed at both Mass and Special Density.


The all electric unit commands roughly 50% premium compared to the diesel version but has greatly reduced running costs as well as the unique benefits from lower noise, zero emissions and no dirty diesel fuel requirements.

Since the launch in the summer over 200 units have been shipped to customers around the world and the order book is full.

Past Performance:

It is the second time that JCB has won the Dewar Trophy, having been presented with the award in 2007 for its outstanding achievement in breaking the world diesel land speed record with the JCB Dieselmax car powered by two JCB engines. Driven by Wing Commander Andy Green, the car reached a speed of 350.092mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA. The record still stands today. 

JCB joins a remarkable line-up of automotive greats which include Mercedes AMG High Performance Power Trains, McLaren Automotive and Integral Powertrain Limited.

RAC Club:

The Club hosts the London Motor week with a bunch of activities in late October and celebrates all-things motoring for seven days. Activities includes the Dewar,  Club Motoring Lectures, Route 66 Regent Street Motor Show and the famous London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. 

As a celebration the JCB is parked in the clubs rather splendid Rotunda. No diesel to spill. Sweet.

Bob Womersley, JCB’s Director of Advanced Engineering in the cab.
Bob Womersley, JCB’s Director of Advanced Engineering in the cab.

Learn more about the JCB 19C at the mini EV Diggers website:  

The Royal Automobile Club is one of the world’s foremost private members’ clubs. See website:



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