Putting the 'Green' Back in Lawn Care
With much of the media's attention focused on the struggling auto industry and its shift towards electric-drive vehicles, little noticed is a parallel trend where similar technology is being applied to industrial applications including electric and fuel cell lift trucks and airport ground service equipment.
One potentially fruitful field for more electrification is commercial lawn care, which is dominated by petroleum-fueled IC engines from mowers to grass trimmers.
Enter Electric Tractor, the brainchild of Brian Elyea, Christopher Kastner, Robert Adsett, and myself. We're four Canadians who are embracing the change to the EV World. We are in the process of launching a new manufacturing company in Niagara Falls, NY that will produce a 48 volt battery powered riding lawn tractor that can cut up to 4 acres of grass on about $1.50 worth of electricity. The tractor -- an illustration of which is pictured above -- also can pull refuse and recycling bins, greenhouse carts, and airport luggage carriers. MSRP will be targeted at $6500. This group strongly believes that the off-road electric vehicle sector is grossly under-served and want to do something about it. In particular, they recognize that lawn care equipment has not properly been focused on as a serious source of pollutants.
Electric Tractor USA (or ETU for short) plans to be in production by June and hopes to make a serious dent in a number of underserved markets. Electric vehicles are a natural fit for so many applications. ETU is amazed at the level of support from so many US states that are embracing green technologies—not only to help reduce emissions, but to also provide real paying jobs for so many Americans. ETU’s ambitious plan also includes a second facility to be opened in California by the end of 2009 using the same business model as the Niagara Falls operation.
All levels of government are starting to look seriously at this type of technology as a way of reducing fleet costs and pollution at the same time. It is a natural fit—and comes across in many statements that President Obama has made related to creating “Green Jobs.”
But one of the biggest problems we face -- like many companies -- is the lack of necessary start-up capital to commercialize our technology fully. Governments focus much of their energy on research and development, which assists new technologies in getting patented and to pre-commercial stages -- but often don’t help with the follow-through. Many incredible environmental discoveries have never truly made their mark due to the lack of funding to take them to market.
There are many venture capital groups, but there are too many inventions and not enough start-up capital. Government tax credits help, but not until the following tax year when returns are filed.
What is the answer? Investing in green technologies in this economic climate? Absolutely. Many knowledgeable people have recently stated that there are many opportunities to be had -- starting with the green sector. Those of you who have the financial ability to help this sector evolve and flourish may want to step up to the plate and realize that the next major revolution will be the green technology revolution. The reality is that high-tech solar panels, cutting edge electric vehicles, and even 48-volt electric tractors are coming. You can help to make it happen sooner.
Length: 72 inches
Width: 45 inches
Height: 72 inches
Weight with batteries: 850 pounds
Drive: 2 motors totaling 1.7 kw
Top speed: 7 m.p.h.
Cost per charge: Approximately $1.50 per charge (depending on local hydro rate)
Range per charge: dependant on application: Cutting – 4 acres + per charge, Towing – 9 to 12 hours depending on weight towed and rolling resistance
Power Pack: 48V / 170 Ah
Charger: Delta Q, Quik-Q On Board
Battery options: Flooded lead acid (Base), Discover AGM sealed (Mid), Lithium (Premium)
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