Deere & Co. is doing its part to change the jobsite perception of hybrid equipment as inferior. The Moline, Ill.-based manufacturer is the latest supplier to build diesel-electric construction machines, starting with its 644K hybrid wheel loader, set to go on sale next year. An even more efficient 944K loader will join the mix in 2013. With these moves, the Deere line will join an elite category of construction vehicles that are capitalizing on hybrid know-how.
Deere is using technology—marrying an internal-combustion engine with electric motors—that is familiar in some automotive, mining and locomotive vehicles but rare in construction equipment. The costs are still high, but manufacturers believe that as volumes of electrical components rise, more heavy-duty hybrids will arrive in the next five to 10 years.