farmers, Innovation, Sustainability
Leave a comment

Electric Tractor Revolution in Mbombela

South Africa’s inaugural electric tractor was designed and assembled in Mbombela, proudly manufactured on home soil. Steve Blatherwick, owner of Electric Powered Vehicles Africa (EPVA), led the charge in bringing this cutting-edge electric machine to life.

Blatherwick, renowned for EPVA’s innovative work, ventured beyond electric game viewers and delivery vehicles. His latest endeavor, the electric tractor, showcases EPVA’s commitment to sustainable solutions in the automotive industry.

In his workshop, specialising in Toyota Land Cruiser modifications, Blatherwick laid the groundwork for EPVA over 13 years ago. After a stint in London, delving into electric vehicles, he returned to South Africa and pioneered the country’s first electric Land Cruiser. The success spurred further projects, including electric safari vehicles and light commercial vehicles.

The electric tractor project emerged when an engineer from Unitrans approached Blatherwick with the idea. Despite uncertainties about its size, the team successfully brought the tractor to life after a prolonged development phase. With confidence in their electric vehicle conversion process, EPVA embraced the challenge, anticipating the tractor to be a versatile solution.

The refurbished Bell Hauler serves as the base for the electric tractor, featuring a 140kWh battery pack and an 800V DC power system. Liquid-cooled and controlled by an Orion BMS, the tractor’s electric motor boasts a three-speed electronically controlled gearbox, delivering an impressive 16,000Nm of torque from 0km/h.

The electric tractor, now in its final stages, is destined for Mozambique, where it will operate in a sugar cane field.

Blatherwick credits a dedicated team for EPVA’s achievements. Engineers Gabriel Paterson and Jesse Kinnear played pivotal roles in design work, ensuring a smooth transition to a modular plug-and-play kit format. Eric Selala, the electrical genius, brings invaluable expertise to the team, while assistants Lethabo Nkadimeng and Tumelo Moetketsane contribute to the assembly line. Pat Blatherwick, Steve’s father, lends support with imports and exports.

The electric tractor, now in its final stages, is destined for Mozambique, where it will operate in a sugar cane field. This mission aims to collect data for refining and producing a more affordable, modular version suitable for farmers. Steve envisions a significant reduction in operating costs, making the electric tractor an economically viable solution for the agricultural sector.

As the first of its kind manufactured in South Africa and on African soil, EPVA takes pride in its accomplishments. Despite being a small company, they continue to make significant strides in the realm of sustainable electric vehicles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.