In agricultural production, the tractor is the farmer’s right hand. Starting from the field plowing, it has taken on the towing of the trailer and water tanker as well as enabling the operation of many tools such as cultivator, disc harrow, sprayer, bucket, fertilizer spreader, bale, mowing, mobile milking and silage machine. In addition to fertilizer, water, pesticide and seeds, diesel oil makes up 20% of the inputs and cost for agricultural production. Therefore, transition from diesel to electricity would provide a great economic benefit by reducing this high cost.
That is when Derindere Motorlu Araclar (DMA) , one of the world’s leading companies in the production of electric vehicles, entered the picture. The Istanbul-based firm develops and produces ‘model specific’ electric drive systems and exports its technology to China. Through their partnership CADMA with China, they started providing their services to Chinese firms, easing access to rare minerals required for battery construction.
The negotiations that started with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2017 led to the manufacturing of a prototype. Although the press releases made at the time were interpreted as political propaganda by many groups, the progress made has yielded positive results. Ziraat Venture Capital of Ziraat Bank assumed the financing of the operations; as a result first “ZY Teknoloji A.Ş.” then “ZY Elektrik Traktör Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş.” and finally an electric tractor factory were established in Dilovası (Izmit). Of the three classes of tractors planned for production (65 hp, 105 hp and 320 hp), two of them (65 hp and 320 hp) are already prototyped. The release of the 320 hp class is expected to be June 2021 with 9 tractors already pre-sold to the General Directorate of Agricultural Enterprises. By the end of 2021, around 200 large field tractors will be manufactured.
The mass manufacturing of 65 hp garden tractors and medium-sized field tractors, which can operate for 4-5 hours with 20 minutes of charging, will start early 2022.
The electric motor converts electrical energy into motion energy. In addition to its noise-free operation, it is stronger, more efficient and more economical. ZY electric tractors are expected to obtain a very high torque with the battery pack and drive system managed by software developed resulting in smooth operation under every circumastance. Maintenance and repair costs of electric motors are very low, saving up to 90% in energy costs. It can be charged wherever there is electrical energy.
The tractor is currently designed to be produced modularly. In other words, the farmer will be able to choose the power, the battery capacity and the size of the tractor he wants and have it assembled very quickly.
The firm, Derindere, has proven itself in this sector through its electric buses, trucks and motorcycles, and has solved the problem of storing wind and solar energy with the inverter it has developed. The firm can store energy in 1 megawatt hour containers in the watch-houses of the Ministry of National Defense.
In an interview , CEO of DMA Önder Yol stated that they obtained the engine parts they needed from select partners largest of which is the Hattat Hema Group that produces parts all over the world. Software, on the other hand, is 100% developed by 80-85 engineers in-house. Derindere is not reliant on any foreign country or institution.
It is critical to address technical issues in electric vehicles such as the supply of batteries, charging possibilities, duration and interval. Electric tractors will easily be recharged at charging stations across Turkey. The batteries of ZY electric tractors are designed for 4,000 uses when used every day which equates to ten years. Tractors will not need any chargers, and will be charged from anywhere within 8-10 hours at 220 volts and in 90 minutes at 380 volts. The firm claims that the charging duration can be reduced to 15 minutes with 1-2 megawatt-hour containers that can be deployed in village centers. This type of investment would make free charging of all tractors in the village very convenient for the producer. Under normal conditions, the garden tractor is expected to work 4-5 hours with 20 minutes charging, and the electricity cost is estimated to be between 1-1,5 €. If solar panels are installed and stored in batteries, even that fuel cost can be avoided.
The large field tractor is designed to operate for about 7-8 hours on one charge. In these tractors, which are planned to start mass production in June 2021, the toolbox and hydraulics will be operated directly with 800-volt dc pumps and the losses will be eliminated. The wheels and the PTO shaft would have 130 hand 160 horsepower respectively making the entire tractor 290 hp. At the same time, this tractor would be used for energy storage. Each tractor would have two 380 three-phase (22 kW) and 220-volt monophase (3.5 kW) outlets enabling many outside tasks with a single tractor.
According to company officials, smart-technology will enable the post-sales network. Through an established partnership with a GSM operator, each tractor will come with a chip ready to transmit data around the parts, the modular brain, the battery and power management systems to the main computer via GSM. The incoming data and signals will allow for rapid resolution of potential problems even before they occur.
The price of a high-power electric tractor is lower than that of an existing diesel-equivalent. However, when you consider the promise of incentives as well as the credit advantages (a partner Ziraat Bank – Bank of agriculture), the electric tractor stands out as a true blessing for the farmer.
Many global tractor companies around the world have R&D and innovation departments that have been working on electric tractors for many years. Although the manufacturer of Massey Ferguson and Fendt tractors has launched the electric and battery tractors, these have not been made available for sale. One reason might be commercial concerns; as companies seek a threshold value above hundreds of thousands for mass production in the automotive sector. Another might be the unresolved issues in battery technology.
The environmental impact of electric tractor use is another striking issue. This will be discussed as a separate topic in a later article.
The fact that Turkish farmers will be among the first to use the electric tractor, which is 95% less fuel-dependent and noise-less, is surely a source for pride for the Turkish automotive industry.
Nazimi Açıkgöz

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