Could Electric Vehicles Revolutionise the Agriculture Industry?

Could Electric Vehicles Revolutionise the Agriculture Industry?

In 2019 we’ve seen serious momentum gather behind the electric vehicle movement. In Britain sales of zero emission vehicles continue to rise and they are becoming more popular among motorists as the key teething problems with them begin to get ironed out. With the agricultural and construction world being targeted for their high emission levels, could we see an electrical revolution about to happen here too?

The Benefits of Electric Special Type Vehicles

The electric and ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) revolution has so far impacted more upon the likes of couriers, taxis and lighter vehicles than those in the plant and agricultural industries. Progress on achievable truck options does seem to be coming, though the range is still proving an issue so far that has yet to be nailed. Of course, if this can happen logistically, it’ll come with a wide range of benefits for the sector:

  • Lower Emissions – the UK government has revealed an ambitious pledge to reach new zero carbon emissions by 2050, a pledge which has seen the automotive industry scrabbling to reduce take ups of diesel vehicles. Practical electric vehicles in the agricultural and construction world would be a huge step towards the government’s lofty goal. Though current focus seems to be on the logistics and haulage industries, you can bet once the mileage issues have been cracked that special type vehicles will be the next to move away from fossil fuels.
  • Cost-Effective to Run – though your initial expenditure for an electric vehicle will undoubtedly be higher than for a traditional engine option, you will begin to see the benefits immediately through the reduction in running costs. Electric vehicles can get more than three times the mileage per cost compared to a petrol equivalent. Plus, with government grants that additional price can be subsidised to make them a more affordable option
  • Higher Flexibility on Working Hours – particularly in the agricultural world this could make a huge difference. Electric vehicles operate at a far lower noise level compared to the current offering of diesel tractors or combine harvesters. This means that the opportunity to harvest at night-time could be opened up, revolutionising the agriculture industry and possibly allowing for higher output of crops and increased income
  • Ease of Charging – as opposed to the current model of refuelling from your local filling station or having to go back to the yard for your DERV, an electric vehicle fleet offers you the chance to recharge at the farm when it’s not in use. With the government providing grant funding of up to 75% for electric charging points at homes and businesses, the initial expenditure may not be as high as feared. Add in the cost-saving element and the convenience of charging whilst you sleep or your vehicles inactive, and electric vehicles seem like a great option for farmers

What’s Holding Back Electric Special Type Vehicles?

Of course, bringing electrical vehicles to the industry is going to require overcoming of some substantial hurdles. Though the government, industry experts and vehicle manufacturers are aware how helpful the electric capabilities could be, it’s going to need solutions to the following problems:

  • Low Mileage – the constant argument against the electric vehicle is the lack of mileage compared to diesel alternatives. It’s fair to say that electric cars are the current frontrunners for feasibility but even the high-end models currently being used on our roads aren’t able to reach higher than 300 miles on a single charge. That’s not taking into account that the battery for vehicles in the construction and agricultural industries would also need to be used to power the machinery elements of the vehicles
  • Upfront Cost – we are unclear as to what the costing implications would be in the industry, with us yet to see an achievable and feasible working model. Based on the electric car pricing model, you can expect the prices to be thousands more than traditionally fuelled vehicles. We’d expect the government to offer grants to incentivise making the switch to electric, though this’ll still be at a significant cost increase. In a challenging market, this may prove too much to justify the purchase
  • Less Power – as you’ll know, farm vehicles with many uses tend to guzzle fuel at an alarming rate to power not just their engine but attached machinery. In order to get these vehicles on our roads and farms we may see a sacrifice in the power of special type vehicles. Then the need for electric vehicles can be a question of whether you’re happy to sacrifice performance for the benefits they bring
  • Timescales – the next big question is when will these vehicles be ready to purchase? With industry noise being largely around the haulage electric revolution how long will it take for special types to be the area of focus? With Brexit looming and an uncertain future for farmers ahead, avoiding big purchases seems a smart business decision and if affordable options take too long to roll out, they may miss the boat completely.

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