Electric drives for tractors? While producers are familiar with the standard hydraulic or PTO-driven systems in today’s tractors, Fendt engineers are researching the potential for electrical drive systems operated from a tractor.
Although the research is still in its infancy, Fendt unveiled its Fendt X Concept project at a recent press event at the company’s headquarters in Marktoberdorf, Germany. Built on a Fendt 722 Vario platform, the tractor includes a high-voltage interface in addition to the hydraulic connections and the PTO.
Fendt’s first work on this concept started in 2001. Partnering with universities and other equipment manufacturers, the goal was to develop compact electric machines that were suitable for mobile operations. Research and development is ongoing, but engineers are excited about the features and benefits this concept can bring to agricultural producers.
For more information, visit fendt.com/us
Photos: Mark Moore
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1. Under the hood
Packed inside the hood of the Fendt Vario 722 is a powerhouse that provides up to 130 kW throughout the machine. Engineers are studying every component of a tractor, from the compressor to the fan, to see where an electric motor could take the place of current systems that rely on direct transmission from the engine (belts and pulleys).
2. Current generator
An integrated current generator is tucked behind the engine. Power electronics and a specially designed cooler unit are all powered by the generator. One key component in the design process is to find electrical drive systems and a generator that can fit within the tight confines under the tractor hood. Engineers note that since the start of the project, systems have evolved to become more compact and more powerful.
3. Keeping cool
An electrically driven fan keeps the tractor’s systems cool even during the most demanding workloads. Since the fan is electric and independent from the tractor’s drive system, it can operate at the proper speed, regardless of the RPMs coming from the engine. This provides for more precise cooling. The electric motor can provide a longer service life, and has been modified to cool fluids within the unit. And if it needs to be replaced, it can be done so much more easily compared to a belted fan.
A specially designed electric connector delivers up to 130 kW to the electrical systems of trailing implements. Because this is a prototype, engineers also had to develop specific plugs that were functional, and rugged enough for the demands of agricultural producers. Fendt is working with the industry to develop specific guidelines for these fittings to make the systems universial.
5. High voltage!
It’s not a sign you see every day on a tractor. This indicates this is a high-voltage system.
6. Electric advantage
This is a prototype spreader from Amazone. The companies worked together to develop electric systems that could take the place of traditional PTO or hydraulic drives. Why electric drives? In a nutshell, electric units are more efficient and more precise. With an electric motor, the speed of the spreader can be adjusted independent of PTO speed.