Photo Courtesy of John Deere

John Deere's entry into the growing hybrid segment rolled out at this year's World of Concrete show, held on Feb. 5-8 in Las Vegas.

Shown in prototype form at CONEXPO 2011, the 644K Hybrid Loader includes a few tweaks, including an upgrade to its original fuel-economy estimate of 15% to 20% more than the non-hybrid version's; now, Deere says the 20-ton hybrid gets up to 25% savings. Its simple controls and quiet operation are thanks in part to the engine's narrow speed band of 900 to 1,800 rpm.

The machine's 6.8-liter diesel engine, which meets Tier 4 interim emissions, is mated to a permanent-magnet generator and motor bolted to a conventional powershift transmission. The setup achieves a net 229 horsepower and supplements braking with resistors. While the loader doesn't store energy like some hybrids, Deere says the $53,200 price increase, or roughly 20% more, can pay back in two to three years.