Does a utility tractor offering a 90 per cent reduction in operating costs sound too good to be true?
Earlier this month CNH Industrial debuted its first all-electric light utility tractor prototype with autonomous features at its Tech Day outside Phoenix, Arizona.
The New Holland T4 Electric Power is a zero emissions tractor with an e-motor peak of up to 89 kilowatts (120 horsepower).
It can run for up to eight hours on a single charge and with DC fast charging it can be fully charged in under an hour.
Alternatively it can be fully charged overnight with AC charging.
The prototype's development time was able to be halved thanks to a collaboration with Monarch Tractor.
A year ago CNH struck a multi-year licensing deal for electrification technologies with the Californian company, which it already had a minority stake in.
The T4 Electric Power's tech stack is installed on the roof and a series of sensors, cameras and control units make a number of autonomous and automated features possible.
CNH Industrial lead engineer Andrew Lauwers unpacked some of these features at the Tech Day.
"Fleet manager mode allows the operator on a smartphone app to understand the status and locations of up to eight vehicles simultaneously," he said.
"We also have gesture mode, which will allow the operator outside of the vehicle to lead the tractor through some basic manoeuvres and functions through the use of a series of hand gestures."
The tractor has a 360 degree camera mode, which allows the operator to see around the vehicle at all times without shifting their position.
Mr Lauwers said the electric motor could be activated at the push of a button and, coupled with the power shuttle transmission, the tractor offered a true jump in and go experience.
He said the T4 Electric Power offered up to a 90pc reduction in noise and vibration.
It can also be activated remotely through a smartphone app and farmers can monitor its performance and battery level at all times.
Standard mechanical, hydraulic and power take-off implements are able to be used with the tractor.
Commercial production of the T4 Electric Power is expected to begin at the end of 2023.
Two MK-V Founders Series tractors from Monarch Tractor could also be seen autonomously moving up and down the paddocks at the Tech Day.
Monarch Tractor co-founder and president Mark Schwager said the company had shipped its first units into the market at the start of December.
"We make an all-electric, driver-optional, fully by wire tractor that also collects a tonne of agronomic data for analysis," Mr Schwager said.
"We're displaying a couple of different autonomy modes; a pre-recorded route and follow me mode, which can be used in harvesting applications if somebody is out there picking and doesn't want to jump on and off the tractor.
"Basically you can move the tractor by allowing it to lock onto you and following you down a row.
"The machine will operate at a constant speed and as it gets close to him it will stop."
The company expects its tractors will appeal to farmers managing vineyards, orchards, dairies and other specialty crops.
- The writer travelled as a guest of CNH Industrial.