Caterpillar Inc. unveiled the first-of-its-kind electric drive track-type tractor in ceremonies Tuesday. Caterpillar Group President Doug Oberhelman, who takes over as Caterpillar CEO next year, praised the technical advances of the D7E model along with the workers at the Building SS plant where the tractor was assembled.
Caterpillar Inc. unveiled the first-of-its-kind electric drive track-type tractor in ceremonies Tuesday.
Caterpillar Group President Doug Oberhelman, who takes over as Caterpillar CEO next year, praised the technical advances of the D7E model along with the workers at the SS plant where the tractor was assembled.
"The D7E demonstrates Caterpillar's commitment to the industry with a machine that does more work and consumes less fuel and parts, providing customers with lower owning and operating costs," he said.
The new machine, adorned with a bright red ribbon, was presented to its new owner, Dan Klingberg, president of T.J. Lambrecht, a Joliet-based contractor. The company plans to put the tractor to work on projects such as the modernization project at O'Hare International Airport, where a demonstration was staged over the summer.
"When I land at O'Hare, I always look for our machines. Now I'll look for this model," said Oberhelman.
The D7E was described as "the tractor of the future" by Building SS manager Mark Hanback, acknowledging the many breakthroughs the company has made in central Illinois.
"Next year, we'll celebrate 100 years making tractors in East Peoria," he said.
Holt Caterpillar Co. was officially founded in East Peoria on Feb. 16, 1910. The tractors produced at that time had about 60 horsepower. Today's D7E offers a diesel engine packing 235 horsepower that drives an electric generator powering two heavy-duty electric motors to assist with the machine's gearing and steering.
The new tractor uses significantly less fuel than other mid-sized tractors, said Caterpillar product manager Scott Johnson. "Operating costs for the D7E are 10 percent less than the top seller in market," he said.
While saluting the several hundred workers who gathered for the unveiling of "the first electric tractor on the planet," Oberhelman stressed the importance of the company continuing efforts to go green.
"The environmental impact has never been more in the public eye, and that's the way it should be," he said.
"I'm convinced that the most successful companies in the world will be those that address sustainability in their business," said Oberhelman, 56.
Oberhelman will replace Jim Owens as Caterpillar's CEO on July 1, 2010, then assume the chairmanship from Owens on Nov. 1, 2010.
"I want to leave sustainability as one of my legacies," Oberhelman said.
In receiving the keys to the D7E, Klingberg expressed excitement over the potential for fuel savings with the new tractor. "For us in the dirt every day, it's a home run. Fuel costs make up the single largest expense in operating our fleet today," he said.
Klingberg said the contractor, which started business in 1947, has used Caterpillar equipment from the start.
"It's the standard of the industry," he said.
Only one D7E has been produced to date at a cost of about $600,000, said Caterpillar spokeswoman Kate Kenny. While costing 20 percent more than the D7R, a non-electric mid-sized tractor that's been on the market for a number of years, the D7E costs less to operate, she said.
Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260 or email@example.com.