How does one really judge a car's “green” credentials? Are gas guzzling muscle cars built here in America greener than an electric car with parts that come from around the world? Probably not. But when it comes down to the manufacturing process, building a car that runs on electricity isn't enough. You've got to green the building process to in every way possible.
So how much of an impact can an electric yard tractor make?
Lest you think I mean the kind you mow with, these tractors are Balqon XE-20 zero-emission yard tractors. The 124 kWhr battery can haul up to 90,000 pounds for 50 miles. Perfect for moving around loads of unfinished chassis's and thousands of tires. Hell, why not just throw a few full size trucks on the trailer?
You can move a helluva lot of weight with the 230 volt, 200 horsepower engine, though the top speed is limited to just 25 mph. It would be a fun race up to 25 though. Unloaded, these suckers can go over 90 miles on a charge, and Bolqon had developed a charging system that lets four of them get juiced at once. All in all, pretty impressive (though I wish it went faster, but that'd probably be too tempting to goof around with for the drivers.)
Under an agreement with Balqon, who is in cahoots with T & K Logistics, Ford will lease 10 30-ton electric yard tractor. T & K already provides Ford with logistic services. These tractors will be tried out at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. A few facts about the Michigan Assembly Plant.
- It used to make full-size Ford vehicles like the Expedition and F-Series
- Ford has converted it to make the next-generation Focus, including a battery-electric version
- The Wayne Stamping & Assembly plant next door, also owned by Ford, is powered by landfill gas.
Starting to see a pattern here? Ford is probably testing the tractors out to see how much money they save, but I wouldn't be surprised to see more of these turning up at other plants.