While Sergio Marchionne, chairman of CNH Industrial, which makes Case IH and New Holland farm equipment, has changed his mind on the future of electric vehicles, other farm equipment manufacturers are pushing ahead with the development of battery powered equipment.
Deutz Acquires Electric Expertise
Off-highway engine maker Deutz has responded to the likely adoption of electric and hybrid drive systems for future agricultural vehicles and implements by acquiring a leading German manufacturer to secure expertise in this field. Torqeedo GmbH may currently produce the only propulsion systems for leisure and commercial boats, but Deutz managers say that buying the company will bring electrification knowledge and products quicker than if starting from scratch.
Dr. Frank Hiller, chairman of the management board at Deutz, said, “This will give us a significant advantage in a very fast moving competitive environment, and marks the start of our E-Deutz strategy. This will lead to the electrification of our product range where it makes sense from technical and financial perspectives, as well as the development of hybrid and all-electric solutions for off-highway applications.”
Torqeedo founder and CEO, Dr. Christoph Ballin, said his company has extensive know-how in respect to electric motors, battery management, power electronics and system integration.
“We look forward to working with Deutz’s development teams to play a key part in driving forward electrification in the off-highway sector,” he commented.
Deutz will initially invest around €100 million ($117 million) — including the Torqeedo acquisition — to implement the E-Deutz strategy, which the company foresees has potential for further downsizing of combustion engines to bring lower fuel consumption and operating costs. First products are expected in about 2 years.
Meanwhile, Deutz is targeting heavy duty off-highway applications by sourcing four new large capacity engines from the power solutions arm of construction and industrial equipment manufacturer Liebherr.
The 9 liter 4 cylinder and 12 liter, 13.5 liter and 18 liter 6 cylinder motors being added to the Deutz TCD range will meet the new European Stage V emissions standards being introduced in 2019, as well as U.S. Tier 4 Final, China IV and EU Stage IIIA requirements. Peak power outputs span 400-830 horsepower, giving the new engines potential customers among grain, beet, potato and forage harvester manufacturers.
AGCO/Fendt Introduces Electric Compact Tractor
According to AGCO/Fendt, the Fendt e100 Vario is the “first practical, battery-powered tractor that can be used in normal operation for a full working day without the need to recharge. High-capacity battery technology is now available on the market that is ideal for use in compact tractors. The ever-growing need to reduce noise and exhaust emissions is also a driving force behind the development of electrical systems.”
The company calls the Fendt e100 Vario a practical, all-electric compact tractor with 50 kW power output, which can operate for up to 5 hours under actual operating conditions. The energy source is a 650 V high-capacity lithium-ion battery with a capacity of around 100 kWh. The battery is charged either with 400 V and up to 22 kW via a standard CEE outdoor socket, or by a supercharging option with direct voltage. With a standard CCS type 2 plug, the battery can be recharged up to 80% in just 40 minutes. In addition, energy can be recovered thanks to the use of an electric motor.
The company reports that the new tractor allows the use of conventional as well as electrified implements. It is fitted with two AEF-compliant power interfaces for electrical equipment. The battery can provide a short term boost of up to 150 kW for the implements. A standard PTO connection is also available, as well as the normal hydraulic supply to implements. This allows for it use with existing equipment. The Fendt e100 Vario will be used for the first time in 2018 in limited numbers, initially on selected farms and in local municipalities.
Deere Introduced Its Electric Tractor in Late 2016
Deere began offering glimpses of its new all-electric tractor called SESAM, late last year, but its major debut came at the SIMA show in Paris, France, in late February 2017. SESAM is short for Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery. Deere calls it the industry’s first fully battery-powered tractor.
The prototype produces 130 kW (174 horsepower) of continuous power and is based on the 6R Series tractor chassis, using an adapted DirectDrive stepless transmission, with a speed range from 3-50 kph (2-30 mph) at full power. The tractor is emission-free and develops high torque at low speeds and a maximum output of around 400 horsepower.
The tractor frame is based on the manufacturer’s 6R series. The battery pack retains a charge for 4 hours, is designed to last for 3,100 charging cycles and has a maximum output of 400 horsepower. According to Deere representatives at the SIMA show, the prototype tractor is at least 4-5 years away from commercial production.