At this week’s SIMA show in Paris, France, John Deere showcased a cut-away representation of its prototype fully-electric tractor, which is powered only by batteries.

We previously published details of this innovative project on February 22.

A video is available online showing the SESAM prototype, as its known, in action – tackling real-world tasks such as cultivating and hauling.

Also Read: Electric John Deere tractor runs for 4 hours on a charge

Alas, at SIMA, the complete ‘working’ tractor was not available to see. Instead, John Deere opted to show elements of the tractor’s components, including part of the chassis (frame) and back axle. Nevertheless, the exhibit did generate some interest among show-goers. Agriland was there, to find out where the prototype, and ultimately this project, is headed.

As we previously reported, John Deere claims that SESAM (Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery) is the industry’s first fully battery-powered tractor.

Currently, one battery charge lasts for up to four operating hours in typical mixed mode operations or for around 34 miles of road transport work. Charging time is about three hours. The battery is designed to last for 3100 charging cycles.

This prototype machine produces 130kW (174hp) of continuous power and is based on the 6R Series tractor chassis (with an adapted 6M Series cab), using an adapted DirectDrive transmission, with a speed range from 3kph to 50kph at full power.

The tractor is emission-free and develops “high torque at low speeds” and a maximum output of around 400hp, with “no energy losses when idling”.

In standard mode, one of two “maintenance-free” electric motors operates the drivetrain; the other is used for the PTO and auxiliary systems. If required, both motors can be linked together in order to supply full power, either for driving on the road or for PTO and hydraulic work.

Other electric-power developments

Interestingly, other agricultural equipment manufacturers are toying with on-farm electric-drive machines. Also at SIMA 2017, Rousseau launched its E-Kastor – a hedgecutter that uses an electric motor to power the rotor.

Meanwhile, in England, the NFU (National Farmers’ Union) published a paper, Electric tractors by 2020? – a review of advanced vehicle technology in the agricultural sector, in which it outlines where and how electric tractors might fit into the farming landscape.

The NFU expects that diesel-electric hybrid and even battery-electric tractors will be available in very significant numbers from 2020 onwards.

It also says that autonomous vehicles will make “a growing contribution to farm management”.