Farmers won’t have to wait until the cows to come home to transition to all-electric machinery
A new electric tractor prototype has been announced by US machinery maker John Deere. The all-electric prototype is being named SESAM (Sustainable Energy for Agricultural Machinery).
Announced last week, the tractor is set to be shown off to the public in Paris at the SIMA show next month. John Deere has also produced a hybrid electric tractor in the past, along with a tractor which is able to run purely on vegetable oil, both of which have won SIMA awards.
Packing 130 kWh of battery capacity, which supplies power to a 150 kW motor, the SESAM tractor offers a substantial 402 horsepower. Currently, a full charge of the battery allows about four hours (based on an average day’s work) and amounts to a 55km range on the road. The batteries can withstand 3,100 charging cycles, which will take almost three hours each. According to our calculations, this means just nine years before they have to be replaced.
The prototype has two independent, electric motors which power a mechanical transmission and has many of the features of the 6R tractor – extremely important for farmers. The company is keen to persuade potential users of the other benefits going electric, such as less maintenance, a longer working lifetime, and reduced noise which will be handy for use at night or in residential areas.
In addition, the company sees the SESAM tractor as “a major part of John Deere’s vision of the future farm, self-sufficient in energy.” Especially for farms which already have in place forms of renewable energy generation such as wind and solar power, they are keen to note that it is now more possible to be non-reliant on external sources of oil or gas for crop generation.
Nonetheless, there are concerns over the capacity of the battery packs. Tractors don’t generally travel far from the farm in Europe, and are already very expensive – so perhaps the cost will not be much greater for farmers. However, during peak season tractors can run for 18 hours per day, so it will be some time before electric tractors are truly competitive with their ICE counterparts in terms of range and convenience.
Future efforts may allow John Deere to pack smaller batteries with higher capacity into the tractor chassis. It is clear that this particular problem should be the main focus of a new development group focused on electrification of the company’s machinery if the company wants to gain momentum in this field. Electrans expects the SESAM tractor to be here ‘dreckly’ (unspecified amount of time). Until then, a video outlining the company’s vision will suffice: