This week, in Moline, IL, I am taking part in a ride-and-drive of John Deere’s new large-frame construction equipment, rated 75 hp and up, launched at the World of Concrete earlier this year. The lineup includes the E-series skid steers and compact track loaders, G-series compact excavators, and 644K Hybrid 4WD loader.
The media event is called the Coal Valley Rally, where journalist are pitted against each other to outdrive, out-steer, and out-lift while sitting behind the wheel of these new vehicles. All of the new models are powered by Tier 4-compliant engines, required this year by EPA to reduce harmful engine emissions. John Deere took the engine-overhaul opportunity to wrap in new cab and vehicle features that offset the higher price tag.
Yesterday, on Day 1 of our ride and drive, we got the chance to experience the enhanced feature offerings by driving six vehicles, all designed around the customer’s need for power, smoothness, comfort and ease of use. One was an E-series skid steer, two were E-series compact track loaders, and two were excavators.
Today we are touring the John Deere Davenport Works factory, where the 644K Hybrid 4WD loader is built. Later today, I’ll get a chance to drive this loader, claimed to provide up to 25% more fuel efficiency than standard diesel-driven models. (Here's the video clip.)  The diesel engine on this hybrid generates electric power and transfers it to electric motors, which power the loading functions.
Stay tuned for a gallery of field shots taken during our ride-and-drive over the sands and rubble at the Coal Valley testing grounds.