The world's largest electric vehicle is a Swiss dump truck that not only charges itself but actually produces more energy than it uses.

The inelegantly named eDumper runs up and down a mountain near Biel, Switzerland. The 45-ton truck climbs the 13% grade empty. It takes on 65 tons of lime and marl, then heads back down to deliver the load to a cement factory, using its regenerative braking system to control the descent.

The regenerative system turns the truck's electric motor into a generator. Because the weight going down is more than double the weight going up, the truck generates more electricity descending than it uses ascending.

The vehicle's maker, Kuhn Schweiz AG, says the truck produces 200 kilowatt-hours of surplus energy during its 20 daily trips. It offloads the excess to the local electric grid.

A Swiss alpenhorn ensemble provides some perspective on the size of the eDumper. The truck is 30 feet long, 14 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. The tires are 6 feet tall. Photo © eMining AG, Andreas Sutter

Kuhn Schweiz, a commercial and industrial equipment company based in Heimberg, Switzerland, created the eDumper by modifying a used Komatsu HD 605-7 truck. Workers replaced the massive 23.1-liter (1,413-cubic-inch) turbocharged diesel engine with electric propulsion.

The lithium batteries supply 600 kilowatts of power — 6 times the capacity of the biggest Tesla auto battery pack — and weigh 4.5 tons. Kuhn Schweiz says the truck saves 50,000 liters of diesel fuel a year, which when burned would have created 143 tons of carbon dioxide.

Kuhn Schweiz is marketing electric-powered construction equipment for areas where exhaust gas and noise can be problematic, such as tunnels or residential areas. Electric vehicles could work well in a variety of other short-haul industrial settings as well. Their tremendous torque makes them ideal for pulling heavy loads.