Hybrid Electrification Provides a Productive and Even More Efficient Emissions Solution

We’ve discussed in the past that emissions reduction does not have to come with sacrifice of fuel efficiency and performance. Our Interim Tier 4 (IT4) and Final Tier 4 (FT4) technologies deliver the same, and sometimes better, power and fuel efficiency you came to expect with earlier engine tiers. Now, hybrid electrification is proving it can provide significant gains in productivity and fuel efficiency compared to Tier 4 machines with a conventional drivetrain.

How does hybrid electrification work?

At World of Concrete in February, we introduced the John Deere 644K Hybrid Loader, the first hybrid model for a construction-size wheel loader. Its Interim Tier 4 engine runs at a constant RPM to power an electrical generator, while a solid-state inverter controls the electric energy created by the generator and consumed by the electric motor based on demand from the operator.

The consistent engine speed enables fast response from the hydraulics, easier operation and overall fuel savings. We found in our wheel loader testing that up to a 25 percent fuel savings (compared to a like-size machine with conventional drivetrain) can be accomplished across stockpiling, truck loading and transport applications.

What are some other benefits of hybrid electrification?


  • Smooth propulsion control
  • Consistent hydraulic performance
  • Faster ramp climbing (in the case of wheel loaders)


  • Long component life goals
  • Advanced diagnostics/prognostics
  • Redundant systems in some designs

Low Daily Operating Cost

  • Lower fuel consumption
  • Reduced tire wear on machines with traction control
  • Fewer wear parts for reduced long-term maintenance cost

As with emissions terminology, there are several terms that you may hear when discussing hybrid technology.

Terms to Know:

Hybrid electrification means two sources of energy — such as diesel fuel and electricity — are powering a vehicle or equipment. Hybrid-electric technology includes electric traction, auxiliary electrification, energy management, and integrated starter/alternators.
Electric traction involves the engine driving a generator to create the electricity used by an electric motor or motors to drive tracks or wheels. This technology has been applied in our industry for years, like large mining trucks. We are heavily involved in electrification research and development, and have already launched a number of electric drives on our mowers, like our E-Cut Series Mowers.
Auxiliary electrification generates enough electric power to run an attachment or a component of a machine, such as a machine’s HVAC or hydraulic pumps.
Energy management shows great promise as battery technology improves and manufacturing costs are reduced, and will soon provide contractors with viable payback on equipment used in repetitive motion applications, such as loaders and excavators.

Where else will you see hybrid electrification in John Deere equipment? Be on the lookout for the 944K Hybrid Loader, which first debuted at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011 and is slated for future production.

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