Ag Market Prepares for Electric Tractors

June 10, 2024

Electric vehicles are a hot topic in the automotive and tire industry, especially in the passenger and light truck segments, but ag tractors will be the next frontier, according to Dave Paulk, manager, field technical services, BKT USA Inc.

“Although larger tractors are likely being tested, it appears the less-than-40 to 100 hp market is the first seriously being looked at with utility tractors for full electrification,” he says.

“At some point, as electrification technology gets better and is used on larger horsepower tractors, tire manufacturers will have to adjust to meet new demands from the equipment.

“Tire technology now is much better, thanks in part to the evolution of mechanical front-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive tractors.

“The decreasing number of farmers and the distance traveled between farms has forced tire manufacturers to develop tires that ride smoother and will last longer when used on the highway,” says Paulk.

“As electrification advances are made and electric tractors become more commonplace, advances in tire technology will have to keep up with the demands of the equipment.

“At BKT, tires are currently tested for road noise. Since electric tractors produce little engine noise, this may become a higher priority in the future,” he notes. “Rolling resistance is another issue that is currently being tested.

“Since tractors spend so much more time on the highway, rolling resistance, ride comfort and road noise are issues that are at the top when testing. With electric tractors, rolling resistance dictates how long battery life they will have.

“BKT is always looking at market requirements and making changes to accommodate the market and handle the horsepower, torque and weight of future equipment. BKT already tests for rolling resistance and noise levels.

“We know this is something being experimented with and (we) are closely monitoring new technology and equipment in the marketplace to supply the best tire possible for these applications.”