John Deere Builds Its First Nine-Yard Loader on Customer Suggestions

Fri July 22, 2011 - National Edition

John Deere has spent years talking with dozens of quarry and other large loader customers about what they wanted in a nine-yard production loader. That collaboration between customer and engineer has resulted in the new 944K wheel loader with a hybrid-electric drivetrain.

“In addition to fewer emissions, customers asked for durability, fuel efficiency and reduced tire wear,” said John Chesterman, product marketing manager of 4WD loaders with John Deere. “We’ve responded with a loader that incorporates four modular, independent wheel drives with electronic traction control.”

Deere’s hybrid-electric drivetrain utilizes electric traction, meaning the engine drives a generator to create electricity used by electric motors to drive the wheels. The hybrid-electric drivetrain provides significantly increased fuel efficiency, reduced tire wear and increased durability and reliability through fewer moving parts, according to the manufacturer.

Customers also asked that the 944K give them better bucket-dumping visibility, so Deere’s product development team worked with them to include a traditional dual- arm boom design.

“The desire for choices in ground-engaging tools led us to design a bucket that would accept various brands of bucket teeth,” Chesterman said. “As a result, customers have several options available for the 944K.”

Inside the cab, customers worked with Deere to get easy-to-read gauges for vital machine functions and more room for the operator. As a result, the 944K features large gauges and a spacious cab.

“We won’t rest until this nine-yard production-sized loader addresses customer requirements for maximum productivity and uptime, and lower daily operating costs,” Chesterman said. “We are targeting 2013 for launch.”

The unit will undergo rigorous customer testing and will not be available until it fully meets every customer need.

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