While electric cars and trucks are a big part of solving pollution and climate change, we shouldn’t forget that the cost benefits are going to be a big part of getting them into driveways. The same is true for many other types of vehicles. One example most of us are familiar with: electric lawnmowers.
We can’t all be farmers, but many of us have a lawn and maybe a small garden or patch of woods. In our garages and sheds we have things like leaf blowers, cutters, chainsaws, and mowers. When those things are powered by gas, they run right most of the time, but can be a big pain when they don’t. Fouled spark plugs, clogged lines, and the eventual demise of the little two-stroke engine all get in the way of getting work done at some point, leaving our spouse mad that things on the honey-do list aren’t getting done.
If you’re using that equipment professionally, there’s just not a lot of time for headaches. A spouse annoyed that the yard work didn’t get done will be a lot more than annoyed if the bills aren’t getting paid. But, do you know what will make your loved ones happy? Bringing home more money. They always like that.
That’s where the electric tractor, like the one Solectrac is bringing to market, really shines.
With the gas tractor, you’re not making money with it when you’re fixing it up. If you aren’t a DIY mechanic, you’re not only suffering the downtime, but you’re paying a mechanic money to wrench on it. Both of those things cut into the bottom line and keep you from buying your kid that Xbox Series X or Playstation 5, while your fuel costs are keeping jewelry out of the wife’s jewelry box. If mama and the kids aren’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
But with the electric tractor, there’s less downtime for maintenance, so you can keep moving dirt around and getting paid. Solectrac says the costs are cut down to ⅓ of what you’d pay to keep the diesel tractor running. And fuel? Grid electricity is cheap compared to gas or diesel, and it’s even cheaper if you get solar put in at the house or garage. Plus, the next time gas prices spike, you’ll sit that debacle out.
All of that makes it a complete no-brainer, but that wasn’t enough for Solectrac.
“We’ve decided to decrease the initial deposit to allow customers to express their interest and intent. This is good for our customers and good for our production line,” said Steve Heckeroth, CEO and founder of the company, as we reported earlier today.
Previously, they had planned on requiring half down to buy one of their electric tractors. The base price for their smaller tractor is $25,800, which isn’t bad for a tractor. My dad’s diesel Mahindra he uses for lot maintenance, weed control, and dirt work was right in that price range, and he got a good deal on it. But coming up with $12,000 cash isn’t always easy. Many people finance their tractors and then make it pay for itself. Add on the price of accessories and PTO gear, and you’re talking some serious cash down needed.
So, Solectrac dropped the requirement down to $1000. Almost anyone using a tractor for work can come up with that, even if they plan to finance the rest of the purchase. They’re currently taking orders for their 40 HP equivalent eUtility tractor and their 30 HP equivalent Compact Electric Tractor (CET). The tractors can connect to existing farm and work implements, allowing them to be used anywhere tractors are currently being used.
Beyond costs, there are a variety of other reasons electric tractors are great.
Noise is a big one. Without the noise and vibration of a combustion engine, working with the tractor can be a lot more pleasant. You don’t feel like you’re all shook up and deafened during your breaks. You also cause less stress to livestock, horses, and other animals on the farm, and if you’ve got neighbors nearby, they and their animals won’t be bothered. It can even make working at night a lot more feasible.
Consistent and powerful low-end torque are also a big plus. The equipment I’ve worked with always has a slight lag and a slight hesitation while the clutches engage to get moving. You get used to it, and factor it in when making precise movements, but the idea of just moving the equipment into a pile of dirt or moving a bucket or other implement sounds like it would be a lot easier to deal with. Electric skidsteers (they’ve been announced, too) sound like they’d be a delight to operate.
And we haven’t even touched on the environmental benefits. For the owner or operator, the lack of fumes will be a big plus, both for comfort and long-term health. For the rest of us not running the tractor, the reduced overall emissions would be a great thing. When charged with renewable power, the potential for serious emissions reductions are there if enough people switch to electric.
Products like these electric tractors are more important than many people realize. We tend to associate tractors with farms, and there are definitely a lot of tractors working on farms, but they’re used for so many more things. We might not identify them as a tractor at first glance when we see them on construction sites, roads under construction, and when someone is moving a big, empty field to keep it from getting overrun with weeds. That’s because they are very versatile machines, capable of running a broad variety of equipment that is attached to them. Backhoes, smaller loaders, and many other things are actually a tractor at their core.
When we consider the combined impact of all these vehicles running day in and day out, it doesn’t add up to what cars and trucks are doing, but it’s still sizeable and worth doing something to improve. Unless you’re the woman depicted in Kenney Chesney’s She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy, cars are a much more exciting, and dare we say, S3XY topic, so it’s good to see companies stepping up in less exciting markets to bring important machinery to life.
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Images courtesy of Solectrac.
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