The much-trumpeted switch to battery power has stalled of late, as consumer resistance to fully electric cars has seen car makers promote hybrids as an alternative instead.
The same may be happening in the agricultural world as it becomes clear that batteries are still nowhere near matching the energy density level of a tank of diesel.
Innovation in hybrids
Two entries in this year’s EIMA innovation awards in November feature hybrid drive: One is the Landini Rex 4 full hybrid and the other is a hybrid telehandler from Dieci.
Landini already has a Rex 4 tractor featuring electrical drive to the front axle. This comprises a motor in each wheel which avoids the need for mechanical drive via shafts and joints, both of which sap power.
The tractor is powered by a 110hp diesel engine which drives the rear transmission as normal, and a separate generator which powers the front motors and charges a battery pack.
One great benefit of this system is that it can recover energy under braking, which makes a lot of sense in vineyards situated on steep slopes, as many are.
Building on currant model
Although full details on each entry have yet to be released it would appear that the company has taken the concept to the next level and developed a full hybrid version.
This involves what the company refers to as an “electromechanical unit between the ICE (Internal combustion engine) and mechanical transmission”.
Apparently, this allows it to be used as a fully electrical vehicle, including the cab’s climate control system, with up to two hours run time. For good measure it may also be charged from a mains circuit.
Telehandler performance boost
The second entry comes from Dieci which suggests that its latest telehandler has the performance of a 106hp machine although only powered by a 74hp diesel engine.
In this case, a battery pack is used as a boost system, charging when full power is not required, and then delivering the extra effort from the engine and battery combined, when it is.
One of the advantages claimed by the company is that the machine can meet the Stage V emission standards without the need for an adblue system.