Quad Cities-based John Deere plans to test an alternative energy source in one of its most popular utility vehicles. Deere spokesman Ken Golden says the test will involve a small utility truck the company sells.The vehicle is going to look like a Deere “Gator”, but will really be a test vehicle powered by a fuel cell. The company is probably best known for selling tractors and combines, but Golden says the Gator has proven to be one of the most popular utility vehicles.It can be a four or six wheels and is used by park systems, golf courses and farmers who need to haul small loads. He says the fuel cell being tested derives its power from hydrogen.The cell actually creates electricity that powers the vehicle, leading to fewer emissions and less noise. Golden says they’ll start testing the vehicle this spring.He says off-road machines will probably adopt the technology before cars, as they’re often fleet vehicles that’re parked in one place where the hydrogen would be available. Golden says any standard use of the fuel cells is likely five years away, and don’t expect to see farmers driving fuel-cell powered tractors anytime soon.Golden says these vehicles are not knocking at the doorstep to replace large diesel engines, but he says it could be a technology of the future. Golden says the company has made great strides in making diesel engines more environmentally friendly, and the experimentation with the fuel cell is another way to continue looking to new technology.
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