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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Cost analysis of autonomous battery electric field tractors in agriculture

Lagnelov, Oscar; Dhillon, Shweta; Larsson, Gunnar; Nilsson, Daniel; Larsolle, Anders; Hansson, Per-Anders


Interest in the electrification of agricultural vehicles is increasing along with growing interest in autonomous vehicles. Individual technologies have been well-explored, but not their combined use and the effects on agricultural fieldwork. In this study, cost analysis was conducted based on a simulated vehicle system with 50 kW self-driving battery electric drive (BED) tractors. The analysis included battery degradation due to cycling and the cost of inadequate machine capacity, as these factors are suspected to be problems for electric tractors. A dynamic discrete-event vehicle system model, a linear timeliness model and a one-dimensional battery cell ageing model were assumed. Costs obtained were compared with those of contemporary manned diesel-based systems. BED systems had equal or lower annual costs compared to conventional manned diesel-based systems; this was due to lower costs for fuel and maintenance, while providing adequate capacity and lower energy usage. Sensitivity analysis showed that operating costs were of greater significance than investment costs. The generally more expensive investment costs of BED systems were outweighed by the reduced operating costs for several different BED system systems. Battery degradation costs and timeliness were influential, but not sufficient to make the system uncompetitive. The synergistic effect of vehicular autonomy and BED outweighed several of the drawbacks of BED systems, such as frequent recharging, increased transport and reduced consecutive work time. ? 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of IAgrE. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


Agriculture; BEV; Economy; Autonomy; Timeliness; Battery ageing

Published in

Biosystems Engineering
2021, Volume: 204, pages: 358-376