John Deere Shows Off Its New, All-Electric Tractor

Jed Oelbaum

John Deere is plowing the way for more sustainable farming with their new SESAM (Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery) electric tractor prototype. We’ve seen small electric tractors before, hybrids, and battery-powered models made for specific applications. But according to a press release, this is the first ever all-electric, high-powered tractor with the “features and functionality of a conventional tractor.”

As Electrek reports, in the concept tractor, “where you would normally find a large diesel engine under the hood, there are stacks of battery packs.”

A full battery will get the SESAM about 55 kilometers, or four hours of (what the company considers) typical work. With these limitations and its three-hour battery charge time, most farmers aren’t going to be ditching their diesel tractors tomorrow. But for now, the SESAM is what John Deere calls a “new step towards a carbon neutral agriculture,” and part of the company’s vision of the energy self-sufficient “farm of the future.”

John Deere won’t be officially unveiling the SESAM until the Paris International Agribusiness Show in February, but they’ve been showcasing the tractor and recently released a demo video showing it in action.

Switching large farm equipment over to electric will be a serious challenge: A lot of that machinery just uses too much energy and needs to cover too much ground to make battery power a practical option yet. An electric tractor that can be adopted by a large swath of farmers will probably have to follow a step forward for battery technology in general.

Still, it’s good to see agricultural manufacturers working to reduce fuel use in their industry. Farmers and ranchers are typically quick to recognize when investing in renewable energy options could save or make them money.