Representing the first electro-mecahnical power split gearbox used in agriculture, the John Deere eAutoPower gearbox e8WD for 8R large tractors has been awarded the biannual Agritechnica gold medal for innovation.
While stepless transmissions with a hydrostatic-mechanical power split have been used for over 20 years, they have always required the use of an additional generator for electric drives with higher power requirements such as fans and air conditioner compressors or for driving implements such as manure spreaders.
According to the John Deere entry, the eAutoPower gearbox dispenses with the traditional hydro unit and replaces it with two electric motors used as a continuously variable actuator.
The electric motors are capable of supplying the drive along with an extra 100 kilowatts of electric power for external consumption.
John Deere noted the electrical integration resulted in improved gearbox efficiencies and reduced maintenance costs along with overall efficiency gains.