LAS VEGAS — John Deere has introduced a diesel-electric hybrid front loader that the company said can reduce users’ fuel consumption by up to 25% and cut down on noise on the job site.
The company’s new 644K hybrid wheel loader utilizes a 6.8-liter diesel engine with 229 horsepower that runs at an operator-selected constant speed of between 900 rpm to 1,800 rpm. The engine is paired to an electric drive system comprised of four components; the electric motor, generator, inverter, and brake resistor.
The brushless electric motor replaces the job of a torque converter, as changes in direction for the loader are handled by the motor. The 644K hybrid has four operating speed ranges, but no clutches.
The motor can also work as a generator to recycle energy back into the system, John Deere said. The loader has a simplified PowerShift countershaft-style transmission that has three speeds, said John Chesterman, the company’s product marketing manager for 4x4 loaders.
The brushless generator converts rotational energy from the engine into alternating current electrical energy, and can also be driven as a motor to use recycled energy to drive hydraulics and save fuel, the company said.
The water-cooled inverter delivers electrical energy to the motor, while the water-cooled brake resistor passively consumes excess recycled energy.
Three electric cables manage all of the loader’s controls, Chesterman said during a media event at the World of Concrete show here. He also said that the constant engine speed helps extend engine life and reduce fuel consumption, while the electric motor cuts down on noise on the job.
He declined to discuss pricing, but did say that the hybrid 644K would sell “at a premium” to the standard diesel model.