The Agtech company and organic food producer AUGA group officially launched its hybrid tractor, AUGA M1, for professional use from the first batch of production. Developed and assembled in Lithuania, the tractor is powered by biomethane and electric drives and is able to operate continuously for up to 12 hours. Compared to diesel-powered analogues, one such tractor reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 100 tonnes a year, AUGA group data shows.
"Agriculture is responsible for 20% of global emissions, and there have been no real solutions for reducing pollution in this sector. AUGA group took the initiative several years ago to develop technologies that could enable a breakthrough in this area and let to farmers work more sustainably and to consumers choose food with no cost to nature. A year ago, we introduced a prototype of a hybrid tractor and undertook a series of technology tests which allowed us to improve that conceptual model. Today, a year later, we have the result that we promised everyone − the new version of the AUGA M1. The tractors from this first production batch will start their work on farms already in 2023," says Kęstutis Juščius, the CEO of AUGA group.
According to the CEO, AUGA group received proposals to manufacture the first batch of tractors not only from Lithuania, but also from foreign manufacturers. But AUGA group was keen to ensure that these technologies developed in Lithuania would be assembled in the country as well. So for this first batch AUGA group chose the Rokiškis Machine Factory, which has many years of experience in the production of agricultural machinery.
The first production batch consists of three tractors. Each includes different components. Serial production will use a combination of the technological solutions that showed the best results over this year's production tests. The factory version of the AUGA M1 hybrid tractor incorporates components from world-renowned manufacturers, such as a Ford internal combustion engine and a CLAAS cab.
"To date, the gas-powered tractors that have been developed around the world have only been able to work up to 4 hours at a time in the field, as the gas cylinders did not physically fit into the tractor's structure. The design by our engineers allows the tractor to accommodate larger biomethane gas cylinders. The second obstacle to the spread of biomethane-powered tractors is the underdeveloped biomethane refuelling station infrastructure. We've solved this problem by offering a quick and convenient gas cartridge replacement, which is filled at the biomethane plant, not on the tractor, and delivered to each farm. This will eliminate the need for biomethane refuelling stations on farms" says Kęstutis Juščius.
The AUGA M1 tractor uses a hybrid biomethane-electric fuel system. During the operation of the tractor, an internal combustion engine powered by biomethane generates energy and transmits it directly to electric motors that rotate the wheels.
Under normal conditions which do not require high power, the tractor accumulates the generated energy reserve in its batteries. The system does not waste energy under low-load conditions, uses a relatively small but efficient engine, and is capable of producing enormous power when needed.
According to the AUGA group's CEO, the aim is for the new tractors to be used not just by Lithuanian farmers but also by farmers around the world. Moreover, it is aimed that the operating costs of the AUGA M1 tractor will be the same as those of diesel-powered tractors.
The total investment to date to develop the conceptual model of the AUGA M1 tractor and to produce the first batch is more than €3 million ($3.2 million). Since the launch of the prototype, the company has doubled the size of its engineering team and plans to hire even more engineering personnel.
After the technological tests in the fields, AUGA group will aim to start mass production as soon as possible this year.
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