'E' Model Deere Means Electricity

E moniker on Deere's new Premium tractor line carries on-board AC generator.

Published on: Nov 10, 2007

The only difference you'll readily see is an "E" badge and all green fixtures at the rear of the cab, but inside the new 7430 and 7530 E Premium tractors John Deere is developing in Europe, you'll find what likely is the shape of things to come.

In place of a flywheel, the E models carry a 20KW AC generator to provide power to operate bi-directional cooling fans (used to clear radiators and air screens in clogging environments), air-conditioning compressors, coolant pumps and other systems – not excluding a future look at electrically-powered implement motors. Right now, the E models are aimed at the development of a more efficient tractor, but Deere officials say the next step certainly includes taking excess AC power to run sprayers, spreaders, air compressors on air-seeders – you name it.

This 7030 E -Premium tractor looks no different from it’s 7030 Premium sibling, but inside, it’s 20KW generator points the direction for ag traction power on both sides of the Atlantic in the near future.

The E project just won Deere the Gold Medal for innovation at Agritechnica in Hannover, one of the largest farm annual equipment shows in Europe scheduled to start November 11.

Advantages include fuel savings of three to five percent (in internal company tests) and a 10 hp. boost to power take off ratings, over similar 180- to 200-horsepower 7430 and 7530 six-cylinder tractors without the E power management systems. Officials say the fuel savings "is small but significant" – particularly when you look at diesel fuel prices ranging from $3 per gallon in the United States to just under $6 per gallon equivalents in Europe.

The crankshaft-driven generator on the E models – 10 of which will be built this summer for testing, and full production will be available in Europe by early 2009 – provides 12 volts at 300 amps, and provide two outlets on the rear of the machine rated at 230 VAC, 50 Hz (European standard frequency) and 16 amps, and 400 VAC, 50 Hz and 16 amp. Obviously the engine accessories don't require all the output of the 20KW generator mounted just behind the engine, so the excess power output is now being promoted for use of powered hand tools such as drills, saws, air compressors, welders etc. The true jewel of the engineering, however, is what Deere engineers call "the next step" – and that includes one wire power for implement motors and controls directed by the ISO bus connections built into every new tractor.

This decal and some paint treatment is the only difference one sees on John Deere’s new E-Premium 7400 Series tractors. The “E” denotes a power management system that includes a 20KW on-board generator operating in place of a flywheel – providing power for engine accessories and, someday, implement motive power.

The ultimate take home of this announcement is in Europe and, probably soon in the U.S., it will be possible to replace many hydraulic motors on implements, eliminating hoses, high pressure oil, leaks, drive lines and u-joints along with power-robbing excess heat loads on the engine and hydraulic systems. In Europe, a number of manufacturers are already producing electrically-powered fertilizer spreaders, air sprayers, etc.

In addition to reducing power-robbing accessories on the engine, the new management system allows quicker warm up of a cold diesel engine…since the fan only runs when necessary. It also allows tractors with air brakes (probably a standard in the U.S. before too long) to run the compressor only when pressures fall below minimum levels. Too, an air-conditioner or defroster can run at full speed with the engine operating at only 100 rpm over designed idle speed.

For over-the-road transport (more important in many places in Europe than in the U.S.) the new energy management system allows the tractor to roll from zero to road speed from a 1,250 rpm launch, instead of the usual 1,700 rpm starting point. Increased available torque at low speeds means quicker recovery from stops, with less fuel consumption and less heat load on the tractor's cooling system.

A key component to this system is an electronic power electronics box (coolant-cooled) which monitors engine speed, temperatures, charge-air temperature, coolant and oil temperatures and load to send directions to the various affected components of the engine and transmission. The "box" is also responsible for much quicker engine response to field loads such as hills or heavier soils.