Battery-powered electric tractors look set to enter mainstream agriculture following the commercial launch of 55kW (75hp) models at the Farm Progress Show in the US.
Unlike the electric compact tractors from Farmtrac and Kubota, the Case IH Farmall 75C Electric and New Holland T4 Electric Power are full-size machines with a cab and the sort of equipment that a diesel-fuelled tractor of equivalent power would have.
In addition, they have telematics and other connected systems, and a couple of neat autonomous features to make life easier for the operator – passing through a gateway without the operator being on board, and the follow-me feature that enables an operator on foot to move the tractor without climbing aboard.
The new models are the culmination of CNH Industrial’s exclusive technology licensing agreement with Monarch Tractor, a US-based start-up founded in 2019 to develop an electric tractor with autonomous capabilities.
Monarch now sells its open-platform 50kW (70hp) Mk-V based on third-party running gear in the US, but the CNH machines use an existing Farmall platform with the Monarch technology built in.
Four-wheel drive, a proven 12×12 transmission with electric power shuttle, multiple rear- and mid-mounted remote hydraulic valves, and a full-size cab are among the familiar elements.
As a result, the new Case IH and New Holland models could easily be mistaken for diesel-fuelled tractors – but for the charging and electric tool power sockets adjacent to the left side of the cab.
And the hood now shrouds a lithium battery pack of 110kWh max, 95kWh usable capacity generating 55kW (75hp) for propulsion and hydraulic power, with 48kW (65hp) available at the pto.
On average, run time is estimated at just four hours on a single charge, depending on the applications tackled.
But New Holland engineers reckon that is sufficient for yard and less-demanding field work on farms and in commercial horticulture, especially if a midday top-up can be fitted between routine chores.
However, they add that run time could extend to as much as eight hours on the lightest duties; and it is noticeable that in North America, the tractors will be supplied under both brands, with a loader included once the order book opens early next year.