Japanese ag tech manufacturer looks to be the first to the line with a hydrogen fuel cell tractor and zero emissions for the global market.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Image courtesy of Kubota
A hydrogen-powered tractor? Yup.
According to Kubota, an Osaka, Japan-based manufacturer, it will debut the world’s first hydrogen-powered fuel cell tractor by 2025, said Nikkei Asia media.
With Europe and the Americas seeking ways to adhere to UN agreements for a net-zero carbon emissions world, the Kubota development of a hydrogen-fueled zero-emissions machine is seen as a ways to fulfill that market.
The report states that Kubota is looking to develop a series of medium to large fuel cell tractors each capable of outputting 50 to 100 horsepower.
Although pricing has not been formalized, it was surmised that each tractor would cost approximately 40 percent more than its diesel-powered cousins.
Such is the cost of new technology. At one time a brand new VCR could cost over $800, a CD player over $1,000. In other words, while there may be an initial sticker shock, if people want the technology, pricing will continue to decrease over time.
For Kubota, it is aware that fuel cell vehicles have been around for a while, but when compared with the relatively new electric vehicles—though we do know that electric cars were first introduced well over 110 years ago—the public has not found them very appealing.
But that’s automobiles. For farm vehicles, a fuel cell is smaller and weighs less than an electric battery required to provide the power to a machine—plus, as an added bonus, a fuel cell will provide a longer drive time, or so it is hoped.
The report suggested that Kubota would have a working hydrogen fuel cell prototype tractor in the field by 2023.
It’s a bold move for Kubota, as heavyweight competitor John Deere et al are placing many of their own eggs into an electric basket—hoping electric-powered farm vehicles will power western ag farms. Kubota is also offering small- to medium-powered electric vehicles, too.
For those wondering just how a farmer would be expected to fill’er up when there is no infrastructure for hydrogen fuel gas stations—at least not in any great number or convenience—instead of traveling to a refueling station, Kubota suggests the fuel comes to the farmer.
Since farmers tend to work in the same localized fields, hydrogen delivered in tanks to the farmer seems to be the plan, ordering in bulk concentrations for the season or as required. With this benefit of convenience, Kubota hopes hydrogen fuel cell tractors will catch on both at home in Japan and around the world.
Established in 1890 as a manufacturer of cast-iron water pipes in Osaka, the Kubota corporation has branches all over the world, including Canada, and today is a respected producer of tractors and other agricultural machinery, construction equipment, engines, vending machines, pipe, valves, cast metal, pumps, and equipment for water purification, sewage treatment and air conditioning. www.kubota.ca.