German loader maker Weidemann has said it will start selling its innovative electric-powered eHoftrac articulated loader in November.
It is aiming the new model mainly at farms where loaders spend a lot of time inside livestock buildings, which means exhaust emissions can build up and potentially harm the health of farmers or their livestock.
It also reckons there is potential demand on farms producing fruit and vegetables and those who are situated close to houses where noise and exhaust can cause friction.
In August 2009, the German government introduced its National Development Plan for Electric Mobility, which aims to boost both the production and the use of home-generated energy on farms. However, apart from electrically-powered forklift trucks and the odd electric UTV, there are virtually no electrically powered vehicles on farms.
A prototype of Weidemann’s eHoftrac was first seen at Agritechnica in 2014. A single battery charge gives two top five hours of full-on work, says the company and charging should take no longer than eight hours. Electric motor-powered machines can also deliver high power and torque almost immediately, it points out.
Lithium-ion battery technology was out of the question due to the eye-watering cost, says Weidemann, so tried-and-tested industrial lead acid batteries was used instead. The drive system uses a variable-displacement pump and two motors, one for the four-wheel-drive system and one for the hydraulics.
Though the electric version will cost 10-15% more than the diesel one, operating costs of the electric version are said to be markedly lower than the diesel one. The company’s trials showed energy cost savings of 48% and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 43%, with much of that benefit coming from the fact that an electric vehicle doesn’t need to idle.
What did the farmers who trialled it think of it? The eHoftrac does buzz, but cows and calves didn’t seem to notice the new noise, says Neukirchen farmer Erich Brenzel. He reckoned lifting ability and battery running time were both good.
See also: Loader test: Schaeffer v Weidemann