Alternative power sources are a key focus says Wirtgen chief sales officer Domenic Ruccolo

Domenic Ruccolo, CSO Wirtgen Group and Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Product Support, Global Construction Equipment, John Deere, spoke with Mike Woof
November 15, 2022
By Mike Woof
Domenic Ruccolo
Domenic Ruccolo

US firm John Deere bought the Wirtgen Group a few years ago and has now integrated the road machinery business into its operations. The company sees a healthy future for the road equipment business, having invested heavily in research and development as well as manufacturing. Wirtgen Group chief sales officer (CSO) Domenic Ruccolo, “From a John Deere perspective we have made a significant investment.”

Like many other leading firms in the construction machinery sector, John Deere is looking to meet future challenges, and this includes Wirtgen. Addressing climate change and sustainability are key issues, with firms now looking at new power systems. Electric drives and alternative fuels and power systems are an increasingly important area for development in the construction machinery sector. New electric equipment has been added to the Wirtgen range as Ruccolo said, “We have three electric machines and we have more coming.”

Electric power will be a key power system across the range of John Deere earthmoving equipment and Wirtgen road machines. That John Deere recently acquired a significant stake in the firm Kreisel Electric is highly significant, providing the ability to meet the challenges of electric power technology. Ruccolo said. “They specialise not only in battery technology but also in charging technology.”

New systems will be developed for use with the construction machines onsite and he said, “There are going to be regular chargers, superchargers and mobile charging solutions.”

Having an in-house battery supplier will be of enormous benefit for John Deere’s product line as a whole, including the road machines from Wirtgen. Ruccolo said that Kreisel will make batteries along modular lines, which will allow the units to be tailored for specific machine installations. At the same time, the batteries will be ruggedised to cope with tough working applications in markets such as construction or quarrying. John Deere will have 26 electric products in the range by 2026, including a number of Wirtgen machines.

Simple details such as charging connections are important and Ruccolo said, “The adaptors are going to be universal. There are chargers that are going to be mobile and others that are going to be stationary.”

However, Ruccolo added, “Full battery electric power is not going to be the solution for everything. Hybridisation is also part of that solution as are biofuels and hydrogen.”

Alternative power sources are a key focus for John Deere (as well as the Wirtgen Group) as part of a wider programme aimed at improving sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of the company and its products. Ruccolo said, “Our investment in technology is extremely high just now.” He added that Wirtgen’s presence at bauma 2022 saw the introduction of 39 37 new products, the highest number at one time in the firm’s history.

He explained, “Europe is where a lot of the innovation is taking place.” And he said that over time most of the world will follow the lead set by Europe with regard to sustainability.

The acquisition of Wirtgen by John Deere has brought a number of benefits to the road machinery firm. Ruccolo said, “We have equipment that varies greatly in size. “We can be as vertically integrated as possible. There’s a lot of technology development in the John Deere space that can be leveraged within Wirtgen.”

Wirtgen was a privately held German company and the ownership is now by a public US company, which has necessitated some changes. However, the information flow between John Deere and Wirtgen has been two way. He said, “There has been a lot of learning we’ve made from the Wirtgen Group.”

A notable change is with the use of John Deere engines in several of the road machines. “Where it makes sense,” he added.

While both John Deere and Wirtgen have wide product lines there was zero product overlap. The two brands are now being sold alongside each other for some markets and John Deere graders were first shown on the Wirtgen stand at bauma 2019. And The Wirtgen Group is now marketing the John Deere wheeled loaders with the Kleemann crushing machines into quarrying. Ruccolo said, “We started with a few markets, just Germany and the UK, but then we’ll introduce these into other markets.”

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