Home Wine Industry Spotlights Innovative Solar-Powered Tractors Reduce Carbon Emissions and Revolutionize Vineyard Management Practices Worldwide

Innovative Solar-Powered Tractors Reduce Carbon Emissions and Revolutionize Vineyard Management Practices Worldwide


In 1970, when Steve Heckeroth dedicated his life to finding alternatives to burning fossil fuels, he could not have foreseen how his work would impact the future of agriculture.

Originally a designer of passive solar homes and renewable energy products, he became interested in transportation and the building of electric vehicles in the 1990s.

Heckeroth’s focus turned to tractors when he realized that the weight of the batteries would provide the benefit of increased traction, and initially began designing experimental versions for individuals.

In 2012, Heckeroth founded Solectrac LLC to take his success with small farm electric tractors into commercial production, and in 2019, it was incorporated as a California Benefit Corp, with Heckeroth as the official founder and CEO.

His mission over the last five decades, while now more laser-focused on electric tractor development, remains fundamentally unchanged.

“Solar-powered tractors are an immediate way to address our climate future,” Heckeroth declares. “We are B-Corp certified, which means our business model considers social and environmental responsibilities, as well as economic benefits.”

Solectrac climate-smart electric tractors have numerous benefits over their diesel- and gas-powered counterparts:

  • Better performance, with more pulling power, increased traction (due to battery weight), and instant torque that can double what diesel tractors offer
  • Elimination of engine noise and diesel fumes, preventing hearing loss and lung damage and lowering air pollution
  • Less maintenance due to fewer parts, meaning less downtime
  • Reduced overall operating costs, as power is derived from electricity from the grid or generated by solar, with no energy consumed during idle stage
  • Patented exchangeable Lithium iron phosphate battery packs for increased run time, which power the electric models for up to eight hours on a charge
  • Creates new industry job opportunities by offering farmers independence from the pollution, infrastructure and price volatility associated with fossil fuels

Heckeroth is very excited about Solectrac’s newly released e70N model, a 4 WD, 70 HP, 60 kWh battery pack, with a specifically-designed narrow track to fit between the vines and trees in vineyards and orchard operations.

“The e70N has a front mount swappable battery pack and a permanent on-board pack to help with traction and to balance the weight of different implements,” Heckeroth points out. “The rear hitch can accommodate Category 2 implements, with a capacity of up to 2000 pounds, with the front mount pack balancing the load on the tractor. Plus, all Solectrac models have regenerative braking that works by turning the motor into a generator to slow the tractor down and put energy back into the batteries.”

Heckeroth also notes that electric tractors offer a huge benefit to worker safety during planting and harvesting operations in terms of less exposure to noise and zero exposure to toxic diesel emissions.

Heckeroth sums up the benefits of the e70N model and the full lineup of Solectrac’s electric tractors: “There’s less maintenance; the engine has only one moving part vs. 400 for diesel. You’re not buying fuel, especially if you’re charging the tractor off a solar array. And finally, the hugest cost-savings is in CO2 reduction. It’s not just for us, but for future generations.”

Solectrac has recently been 100% acquired by Ideanomics, a global company focused on driving the adoption of commercial electric vehicles and associated energy consumption,  formerly a minority owner. Since the acquisition, Ideanomics has brought on long-time agriculture and construction industry veteran Mani Iyer to succeed Heckeroth as Solectrac CEO, with Heckeroth now serving in a new role as chairman of the board.”Solectrac is reshaping the future of sustainable agriculture with pioneering new electric tractors that are safer, cleaner and more powerful than their diesel and gas counterparts,” said Iyer. “I am excited for the opportunity to advance Steve’s founding vision as we continue to lead the zero-emission, regenerative farming movement.”

For more information on Ideanomics, Solectrac and the e70N tractor model, go to https://solectrac.com. Reservations are currently available for pre-order with a fully refundable $1,000 deposit, with delivery expected in Spring 2022. 

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