CHELSEA, Ala. (DTN) -- Monarch Tractor, maker of the world's first fully electric, driver-optional tractor, announced Wednesday its successful completion of a $61 million Series B funding round. The funding round is led by Astanor Ventures, a leading sustainable food venture firm. The funding round also included contributions from CNH Industrial, At One Ventures and Trimble Ventures.
"With support from such companies, we're well positioned right to start scaling up. (This) should provide confidence to the farmers (when companies) such as CNH and Trimble are seeing value in what we are doing," Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractor told DTN/Progressive Farmer on Wednesday. "As we collaborate with them, and start pushing our product out, this will incorporate all the great lessons and technologies and expertise that both those companies have, as well."
CNH's investment in Monarch's Series B Funding comes on the heels of a recent licensing agreement between Monarch and CNH. By that agreement, "Our technology allows CNH to deploy electric tractors with Monarch technology," said Penmetsa. "It basically accelerates the roadmap for both companies." The technology agreement centers on tractor electrification. CNH also was part of an earlier investment round this year.
Monarch will use this round of financing to scale up its sales and services functions. The investment will allow Monarch to increase its production facilities by three times. The Monarch Tractor system brings to producers a convergence of electrification, automation and quick data analysis. Monarch is focusing its early retail efforts on West Coast grape, berry and orchard producers. It also is ramping up pilot testing programs in Asia, Europe and South America.
"Monarch is transforming what is arguably the most important vehicle on the planet -- tractors," said Hendrik Van Asbroeck, partner at Astanor Ventures. "Tractors emit 14 times more than a car and have not seen the same wave of digital innovation as we have seen in the automobile industry. Beyond delivering an affordable, clean and autonomous solution, Monarch's tractors capture detailed on-farm data to enable the sustainable and efficient farms of the future."
In addition to data collection, Monarch is using operator feedback to steadily improve the tractor. "We're starting to incorporate (operator) feedback into the tractor," Penmetsa said. Farmers are interested, for example, is using the tractor to pull larger sprayers.
Monarch has received good news from the California Air Resource Board. CARB has approved subsidies for farmers who purchase Monarch tractors. "Farmers in California can now expect support from the state," Penmetsa said. A handful of grants have already been approved.
Monarch tractors are already operating under real conditions. For example, a pair are working at one nearly 140-year-old winery. "We've seen firsthand the benefits of the Monarch tractor in our vineyards," Niki Wente, a fifth-generation grower, and senior vineyard and viticulture manager at Wente Vineyards, told DTN/Progressive Farmer. "Autonomy is 100% something I believe will be a game changer."
Wente Vineyards is the oldest continuously operated family winery in the United States. Founded in 1883, it tends 2,600 acres of vineyards in California's Livermore Valley and Monterey appellations.
Compact utility tractors, like those produced by Monarch, are a fast-growing segment in the U.S. Compact units are typically used more than 100 days per year in the U.S. World demand for compact tractors is large -- about 1.4 million to 1.5 million units, annually.
For earlier articles about Monarch go to:
"MachineryLink: Monarch's Electric, Autonomous Tractor Technology Attracts Global Investments," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
"MachineryLink: CNH Invests in Monarch's Electric, Autonomous Tractor Technology," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
"Monarch Deploys First Tractors," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
To see the Monarch Tractor in action, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/….
To learn more about Monarch Tractor, visit www.monarchtractor.com.
Dan Miller can be reached at email@example.com
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