Four new models in the Cat mini hydraulic excavator lineup, engineered and manufactured by Caterpillar, are designed to provide users the best performance, versatility, safety, operator convenience—and affordability— in the smallest possible packages for 1-to-2-ton class machines. This customer-centered approach to engineering results in the new models incorporating industry-first standard features, such as joystick steering (Stick Steer) and a tilt-up canopy or cab, as well as new options, including air conditioning and expandable undercarriages across the range.

The new model range allows customers expanded choices for matching machine capabilities and machine features to the applications: 301.5 (1.5-ton class, standard tail swing, with canopy); 301.7 CR (1.7-ton class, compact radius, with canopy); 301.8 (1.8-ton class, standard tail swing, with either canopy or cab); 302 CR (2.0-ton class, compact radius, with either canopy or cab).

Minimum operating weights (approximate) for the new models range from 3,500-4,500 pounds (1 575-2 045 kg), with weights increasing to 3,900-4,900 pounds (1 760-2 200 kg), depending on specific machine configuration. Dig depths are 7 feet 8 inches or 7 feet 9 inches (2 340 or 2 370 mm), depending on the model, and an available long stick increases depth to 8 feet 4 inches or 8 feet 5 inches (2 540 or 2 570 mm). Rubber track undercarriages are standard, with steel tracks available for all models.

All the new models use the Cat C1.1 engine, a three-cylinder diesel rated at 19.2 net horsepower (14.3 kW), and 21.6 gross horsepower (16.1 kW), while meeting Tier 4 Final/Stage V emissions regulations. The C1.1 features a power-dense design and delivers consistent performance through a wide speed range. Fuel efficiency is enhanced with engine idle control and automatic shutdown systems.

Premium features

The new Next Generation mini excavators use an efficient, fuel saving, load-sensing hydraulic system with an electronically controlled variable displacement piston pump capable of oil flows to 17.4 gpm (66 L/min). Flow rates, coupled with high main-relief pressures, provide the new models with the hydraulic capacity to generate high digging and lifting forces, as well as to handle powered attachments.

For added versatility, the standard auxiliary hydraulic system (complete with quick disconnect lines) provides one way, two way, and continuous flow. Manual couplers are available, and the new models are equipped with a thumb-ready package and a certified lifting eye. Front shovel operation, a capability that lends an extra measure of precision when digging around utilities, can be accomplished with both pin-on and coupler-mounted buckets.

The expandable undercarriage (standard for all models) narrows to allow the new machines to enter work sites through restricted access points, then extends to provide a stable work platform. Undercarriages for all models, except the 302 CR, retract from 51.2 to 39.0 inches (1,300 to 990 mm); the 302 CR retracts from 55.1 to 42.9 inches (1,400 to 1,090 mm).

A dozer blade further expands the capability of the new models, allowing the machine to handle backfilling and grading tasks. The blade features ample travel, above and below grade, has a float function, and allows "dig-to-blade" operation for more efficiently handling loose materials. Major structures for the Next Generation mini machines—upper and lower frames, track frames, boom, and stick—are modeled after their larger Cat excavator counterparts and designed for long term durability.

Operator environment

The design of the new Next Generation models emphasizes the comfort, convenience, and safety of the operator. The cab, optional on the 301.8 and 302 CR, is pressurized and sealed to reduce dust intrusion and is fitted with a climate control system (with or without air conditioning). The front window slides upward and stores overhead, and large glass areas on the sides and rear of the cab, plus a skylight, provide all around visibility. The operating consoles feature adjustable wrist rests, and a suspension seat is available. A retractable, 3-inch-wide seat is comfortable to wear.

Controls are designed to be intuitive, with a pattern changer that allows operators to select their preferred system. A machine security system is standard—key with pass code or push-to-start with fob. The Next Generation LCD monitor provides easy-to-read machine information and features a jog dial for easy, ergonomic interaction with the monitor. Radio is standard with cabs, as is Bluetooth capability.

An exclusive feature for the new Next Generation models is the standard Stick Steer system, which allows the operator to switch (with the touch of a button) from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to left-hand joystick control. Stick Steer provides the benefit of less effort with improved operator control. Additionally, automatic two speed travel is standard.

Safety and service

Protective structures (ROPS, TOPS, and Top Guard—Level II) are designed to promote a safe working environment for operators. All controls are protected via a hydraulic lock out, and halogen boom lights help illuminate the work area. Optional LED lights, front and rear, help to further enhance visibility. The easy-to-transport Next Generation models also feature tie-down points on the track frames to facilitate securing the machine.

Routine maintenance check points are accessible at ground level through the side doors, and the battery is maintenance-free. The exclusive tilt-up cab allows access to major hydraulic components with a simple process that can be completed in under five minutes.