New Holland gives European debut to new methane tractor prototype

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CNH Industrial’s New Holland Agriculture business chose this week’s (November 12-18) Agritechnica 2017 as the European venue for unveiling the second generation prototype of its methane-powered tractor concept, following the machine’s world debut at the US Farm Progress show in the summer.

The tractor is the latest element of New Holland’s energy-independent farm concept, which is focused on a zero CO2 cycle based on the production of biomethane from farm-grown crops which are then placed in on-farm digesters to break down and produce methane for powering farm vehicles, as well as other road-going vehicles and for producing electricity via a fixed gas engine.

The latest prototype is based on a T6.180 tractor from the brand’s Basildon-built product line. However, it is significantly different in style from the first generation prototype which was based on a smaller T6.140 and had an FPT F1C four-cylinder engine as used in the Fiat Ducato van.

The new version is powered by an FPT 6.7-litre engine from the engine maker’s NEF family, featuring a stoichiometric multi-point injection system. Maximum power is 180hp/135kW and maximum torque 740Nm. Fitted with a wastegate turbocharger, the engine features a three-way catalyst aftertreatment system. Filling of 50kg of fuel takes around four minutes. In terms of emissions, the engine is said to produce 1% of the particulates of a diesel and 10% less CO2.

While the styling is futuristic, traditional sustainable materials also form part of the machine’s construction, including a wooden floor layer to deaden sound coming up from the transmission. For the operator, there is an innovative cab interior featuring concepts including a full solar glass roof, aiding vision when working with a loader, and a central information display in the middle of the steering wheel. Information displayed can be swiped and selected from a more comprehensive display in the upper right area of the cab headlining.

“The tractor is unlikely to go into production in this format,” concedes Mark Howell, global product manager for alternative fuels at New Holland.”However, we are actively testing various prototypes in the field, and asking farmer testers to tell us which features they rate as most useful. This will govern which concepts gradually make their way into series production tractors.”

By Martin Rickatson

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Tom Stone is Editor of the iVT brand – which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and the Advanced Lift-truck supplement, as well as ivtinternational.com, which is updated daily. Tom has met and interviewed some of the world's leading industrial vehicle OEM presidents, CEOs and MDs, and takes great pride in cementing iVT's place as the leading forum for debate within the industry, a reputation that his been built up over the brand's 25-year history.

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