Solectrac, a California-based company that manufactures 100% electric tractors, is reimagining the traditional tractor dealership model as it prepares to introduce new models in 2022.
Solectrac currently offers electric tractors equivalent to 30 and 40-horsepower diesel machines. A 50-horsepower model, a hydrostatic tractor and a tractor with a backhoe will be available next year, along with a 70-horsepower equivalent narrow tractor for use in vineyards. 75-horsepower wide and 100-horsepower equivalent electric tractors are in the works for 2023.
The tractors run on lithium ion battery packs, which can power the machines for up to 6 hours. They also have a patented exchangeable battery pack in place of the front weight to double the range. The tractors are currently manufactured and assembled in Santa Rosa, California.
Benefits of these 100% electric machines include zero emissions, full torque at 0 RPM, low maintenance, and five times the efficiency of diesel tractors. Mani Iyer, CEO of Solectac, says the price averages 20-30% higher than traditional tractors, but the total cost of ownership is paid back in 2 years.
Iyer says the company is using a hybrid sales model. It sells to dealers and direct to customers, but dealers still play an important role in those direct-to-customer sales. Solectrac may have a dealer send stock to a nearby customer who ordered directly, or if the dealer doesn’t have stock, Solectrac will send the tractor directly to the customer, while still compensating the local dealer.
“We are not following the traditional tractor model of putting hundreds of dealers across a very limited area of coverage and competing with each other and dropping the margins and not being very profitable. We are not going to go that route. We will go the route of having fewer dealers with a large area of responsibility so they have room to grow. And we have direct customer sales, which will fall under the dealership for service support, so thereby dealer has got a wide area to grow the market. We'll have a maximum of two to three dealers per state having a wide area of responsibility, thereby having probably a hundred dealers.”
Solectrac will begin recruiting dealers in January, focusing first on California and the West Coast before expanding into other regions in North America.
Iyer says the company is open to recruiting all kinds of dealerships to sell its tractors — from rural lifestyle to RV to car dealers. What’s important to Iyer is that the dealership has a good standing in the market, good serviceability and good business sense.
To learn more about Iyer’s business strategy and vision for the future of Solectrac, check out our extended coverage at AgEquipmentIntelligence.com.