Monarch delivers first 70 hp electric tractor to City of Berkeley

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In a move set to align with a new state mandate to transition to a zero-emission off-road equipment and vehicle fleet by 2035, the City of Berkeley, California becomes the first to take delivery of a a 70 hp Monarch MK-V electric tractor.

It’s been a rough week for fans of electric farm tractors, with news that California-based Solectrac has been evicted from their Sonoma County R&D facility and word that a number of ag equipment dealers have soured on the brand, stating that, “(the Solectrac) is a nice tractor but really about a 75 horsepower tractor is what people look at.”

It seems like someone at Monarch agreed, because their electric tractor is available with 70 all-electric hp and enough instant torque for the brand’s reps to be able to confidently claim that their horses are bigger than most. And, almost as if in direct response to the comments from dealers, they seem to have business and public sector customers ready to give them a shot — starting with the City of Berkeley.

“We (City of Berkeley) have been slowly but surely purchasing electrical equipment for our operations,” says Melissa Marizette-Green, Senior Landscape Gardener Supervisor, City of Berkeley Parks Division. “The MK-V is going to be the largest piece.”

It’s worth noting, too, that Marizette-Green chose the Monarch tractor intentionally, and not simply because it was electric. “We had seen another electric tractor here in California, but it didn’t meet our needs,” she explains, stopping just short of calling out Solectrac by name. “That tractor was not powerful enough to use the attachments that we use in our operations. The Monarch was everything we needed.”

The City of Berkeley was able to take advantage of California’s Clean Off-Road Equipment (CORE) incentive program, which enables customers to purchase the Monarch MK-V for a minimum of 65% off the retail price, effectively making its purchase price equal to a similar-sized diesel tractor while offering significantly reduced operating costs.

The Monarch MK-V is currently in production at the Foxconn-owned Lordstown factory in Ohio, with early deliveries reaching customers as I type this. The Monarch electric tractor offers a proven runtime of up to 14 hours, swappable li-ion battery technology, compatibility with a number of current, industry-standard implements, and a suite of autonomous tech.

Electrek’s Take

Melissa Marizette-Green, City of Berkeley Parks Division, takes delivery of a MK-V; via Monarch.

While this is good news for electric tractors and, I think, humanity and agriculture as-a-whole, it makes me a bit sad for Solectrac. I’m a huge fan of those guys, and have been a fan of their founder, Steve Heckeroth, since the days of US Electricar.

I was invited to moderate a fireside chat on the subject of electric tractors at last year’s Electrify Expo Industry Day event in Long Beach, CA with Monarch CEO, Praveen Penmetsa, and Steve Heckeroth that focused on agriculture’s role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s titled “Field of Dreams: From the Farm to the Open Road, and Higher,” and you can watch it for yourself on YouTube, below.

Coinciding with the earliest days of the automobile, America’s farms and ranches saw new possibilities for tending to crops and land with tractors and other rugged vehicles. Today, data and automation that provide safety on our highways often come from work in rows of produce destined for the dinner table and travel far beyond our cities. Let’s visit with the pioneers of these new proving grounds and the launchpads of tomorrow.

PS: you’re wrong. The Stetson was a fantastic choice.

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