Mark Schwager is an electric vehicles veteran who has served at several companies including Tesla, Toyota and Zoox. Mark has seen firsthand the evolution of EV’s and has taken that experience to Monarch Tractor to rewrite the rules of electric vehicle manufacturing. In this exclusive interview with TechBullion, he will be sharing more details with us on his mission at Monarch Tractor.
Please tell us a little more about yourself?
I’m Mark Schwager, co-founder and president of Monarch Tractor. I have an extensive manufacturing background having previously led manufacturing programs for Tesla, Toyota and Zoox, among others. My focus now is manufacturing Monarch’s flagship MK-V tractors and scaling the company.
What is Monarch Tractor and who is the business for?
Monarch Tractor is the world’s first fully electric, driver-optional, smart tractor. It was designed with farmers in mind. Monarch Tractor does everything a traditional tractor does, but does so with zero emissions, can be operated with or without a driver, and is outfitted with cutting-edge, deep learning technology that provides actionable intelligence that can be used for increased precision and efficiency in the fields.
What inspired you to start an EV company like Monarch Tractor and why must today’s farmers use EV tractors?
The traditional diesel tractor has not evolved in 100 years, making it long overdue for a makeover. An EV tractor is a must for farmers looking to cut fuel costs and dependency on oil, and reduce their carbon footprint. On top of that, it has a fully integrated electric platform equipped with innovative tech meant to help farmers cut costs and increase operational efficiency. I wanted to start this company because electrification and automation were missing from the agriculture space and I’ve spent my whole career in electrification and manufacturing with lots of automation. I saw the farm as a factory for food, but I didn’t see a manufacturing philosophy on the farm. I see Monarch as a great opportunity to integrate the technologies I had been surrounded by into a novel—yet familiar—product that could address economics and sustainability without compromising one for the other.
Manufacturing the world’s first electric smart tractor seems to be a futuristic, high-tech endeavor. What is your take on this?
Monarch Tractor is at the intersection of tech and agriculture. At its core, Monarch Tractor is just that: a tractor. It operates like a traditional tractor, but beyond that it utilizes the power of technology on the farm to solve real problems farmers face. There’s no doubt that the Monarch Tractor is on the bleeding edge of technology, but it’s easy to see that it is a natural evolution for the industry and not just some far-off tech dream. The autonomous and data collecting functions of the tractor solve real problems farmers have faced for years, and make the tractor more useful and efficient than ever before.
You have served at several companies including Tesla, Toyota and Zoox. How is this experience different from your prior EV companies?
I have had a lot of firsts in my career, but bringing the first electric autonomous smart tractor is a huge milestone for me personally, as well as for the industry. A big reason why co-founding Monarch has been so exciting and important for me is because specialty crop farmers have largely been left out of the EV revolution despite agriculture being a major contributor of carbon dioxide. The CO2 savings of converting one diesel tractor to the Monarch Tractor is equivalent to taking 14 cars off the road. And it’s this level of change we need to see across industries to begin achieving our climate goals.
How is your manufacturing approach unique compared to other EV players?
At Monarch, we take great pride in the manufacturing of our tractors. Our current pre-production pilot tractors are being built on a pilot line in our Livermore, California microfactory by an experienced manufacturing and assembly team recruited from an array of markets at the highest quality. We are ramping up production and increasing our manufacturing footprint to keep pace with the demand we have seen from farmers across the globe.
How can we invest in Monarch Tractors? Do you have any available opportunities for investors and partners at Monarch Tractors?
Monarch Tractor has developed a great network of investors and partners. We are interested in cultivating mutually beneficial long-term relationships. If interested, contact us via our website.
Please tell us about the level of support customers get even after they’ve purchased a Monarch Tractor?
Monarch has a comprehensive approach to deployment, training, and service in order to set our customers up for success. Each customer has needs unique to their operations and farm and we seek to address these up front before a tractor is ever dropped off. Upon receiving the tractor, a deployment and service specialist is assigned to each customer to provide a customized experience catered to their needs. In the unlikely event that the tractor encounters a maintenance issue, the service specialist can remote into the tractor’s cameras and provide step-by-step instructions on how to repair.
What can we expect next from Monarch Tractor? Any other information you would like to share with us today?
2022 will be a big year for Monarch Tractor as we begin the first delivery of our tractors to customers. Interest in our tractor is global and we are currently in the process of expanding our operations to bring the Monarch Tractor to numerous countries. If you want to learn more about Monarch Tractor and see the tractor in action, visit our website at www.monarchtractor.com.