Deere Pursues Electric Construction Machines and Charging Infrastructure

The manufacturer plans to deliver 20-plus electric and hybrid-electric models across John Deere and the Wirtgen Group by 2026.

John Deere revealed its first electric excavator, the 145 X-Tier, at CES 2023 in January and used the CONEXPO Show in March to continue showcasing its electrification strategy. Targeting excavators because they are the “most heavily used machine form on the jobsite,” Deere said the 145 X-Tier is powered by batteries from Kreisel Electric, in which Deere acquired a majority stake in early 2022.

The 145 X-Tier electric excavator was a popular attraction at Deere’s inside booth at CONEXPO. (SAE/Ryan Gehm)

Deere says the strategic relationship with Austria-based Kreisel will serve as “the cornerstone” for electrifying its portfolio of machines. Kreisel specializes in immersion-cooled battery modules that enable a “uniquely low” temperature spread of <1° throughout the module, resulting in a longer lifetime of up to 20%, the company claims.

Kreisel also developed a high-power charging technology called CHIMERO that is “battery-buffered” – i.e., the integrated battery supplements the available grid connection to mitigate load peaks, and its own battery is recharged while charging a vehicle. The commercial platform with CCS Combo-2 connectors is said to enable up to 180-kW charging power with a “typically available” 60-kW grid connection and reportedly costs about 50% less than typical EV fast chargers.

Kreisel’s patented immersion cooling enables a “uniquely low” temperature spread of <1° throughout the module, reportedly resulting in a 20% longer lifetime. (SAE/Ryan Gehm)
New 20-kWh and 40-kWh Kreisel batteries, which were revealed at CONEXPO, offer increased packaging flexibility in smaller vehicles. (SAE/Ryan Gehm)

At CONEXPO 2023, John Deere unveiled new Kreisel batteries and electronic hardware solutions, including a new Gb Ethernet Switch that manages the transfer of controls information and high-quality images to multiple devices in a system in real time. In addition to the 63-kWh KBP63 lithium-ion 21700-type battery that was displayed at Bauma 2022, 20-kWh and 40-kWh power options were on display in Las Vegas. These new models offer industrial and marine customers increased packaging flexibility in smaller vehicles while still using the patented immersion-cooling technology.

The available 400V KBP63 module weighs about 400 kg (880 lbs.) and measures 1111 x 795 x 351 mm (43.7 x 31.3 x 13.8 inches). The battery system can be connected in series or parallel, with up to 16 packs and 800V applications, according to Kreisel.

Deere is intent on developing a charging ecosystem that can be scaled to meet operating conditions on a variety of jobsites. (SAE/Ryan Gehm)

Coming in 2024 is the 20-kWh KBE20.400 400V battery system, which weighs 150 kg (330 lbs.) and has a 40-kW continuous discharge and 80-kW peak discharge (10 seconds). Also expected in 2024 are two 40-kWh options – the KBE40.800C and KBE40.800S 806V (max) systems. Both weigh 275 kg (605 lbs.) with 80-kW continuous and 150-kW peak discharge; the difference is packaging – the .800C model measures 774 x 504 x 440 mm (30.5 x 19.8 x 17.3 inches) while the .800S is a “long version” at 1,436 x 504 x 228 mm (56.5 x 19.8 x 8.98 inches).

“We see the clear and growing need for battery and charging solutions for the off-highway industry,” said Jennifer Preston, global director of John Deere Electric Power. “Together with Kreisel, we are expanding our battery portfolio to include even more versatile, scalable power to meet a wider range of application needs as we continue to work toward a future with zero-emissions propulsion and pursue our goal of demonstrating viable low- and near-zero-carbon power solutions by 2026.”

Deere claims to have more than 3 million customer field hours operating electric-drive machines. The manufacturer plans to deliver 20-plus electric and hybrid-electric models across Deere and the Wirtgen Group by 2026. These machines will include electric compact-utility tractors, commercial and residential mowers, Gator utility vehicles, and more than 20 models of construction equipment.

Deere also is intent on developing a charging ecosystem that can be scaled to meet operating conditions on a variety of jobsites. Charging requirements will differ by market segment and applications, the company said, from needing both stationary and mobile options to versatile ranges and charge times. Deere says its machines will feature common automotive-style connections to allow for shared charging-station use where possible.

“John Deere recognizes the important role and opportunity charging infrastructure presents when it comes to the successful progression and adoption of battery power as an industry,” said Pierre Guyot, senior vice president of John Deere Power Systems. “We are working to develop comprehensive charging solutions our customers can invest in and reliably run in the rugged environments they work in day in and day out.”

Deere has invested to increase Kreisel’s battery production capacity by more than 2 GWh. (John Deere)

Deere has its largest presence ever at CONEXPO 2023, combining with Wirtgen Group for a total of 80,000 sq. ft. of booth space. Nine electric or hybrid-electric John Deere and Wirtgen Group machines are on display.

Kreisel expands battery production capacity

Deere has taken its next steps to satisfy the growing demand for batteries as a sole- or hybrid-propulsion system, announcing in September 2022 that it made an “immediate investment” in multiple battery-production locations. The company says its significant capital commitment will bring an increase of more than 2 GWh to Kreisel battery production capacity.

In addition to the production facility in Austria, Deere is opening a new facility at the John Deere Saran factory, the primary manufacturing location for its engines in the European Union. The funds primarily will be deployed within the mobile commercial and industrial solutions as well as the charging infrastructure division of Kreisel.

“This investment will put a strong focus on the industrialization and automation of the entire production process, as well as research and development capacities at Kreisel HQ in Rainbach,” Preston said. Deere also is investing in battery assembly in the United States.