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Concept electronics look space-age, but production versions will include aspects of the design.

Even with enough gas for a day’s work, there is space left for a decent toolbox beneath the cab. ...from previous page

global product manager Mark Howell. “It’s a self-sustaining loop and an example of what the future of agriculture might be.”

Potential future developments include the ability to sell fuel produced on farm to other vehicle users, from the yard, adding an additional revenue stream. The concept tractor displayed includes a cab with almost 360-degree vision including almost 20 per cent extra glass area over a standard cab. The gas tanks are below the cab but there is still room for a handy toolbox beneath the right-hand steps. The electronics are obviously stretching current boundaries of acceptance but are clear and aspects of the design will be found on production models within just a few years. The T6-180, one of the range’s current best sellers, was chosen as a test tractor being big enough for field work and nimble for yard tasks. The same engine block is also found in T7 models, so a logical future development would be gas-fuelled

versions of the Basildon-produced larger tractors. “Early adopters are likely to be farms with AD plants or small farms with an AD plant on a neighbouring farm,” explained Mark. “The preproduction models are starting work with test farms this year and we believe the possible working time available will be adequate, but for tasks where additional hours are needed there is always the potential to add extra tanks on the front linkage or on implements. We see a possible scenario where professional farms operate mixed diesel and gas-fuelled fleets.”

Test drive Farmers Guide tried out the methanefuelled T6-180 with a large trailer at the Basildon factory test track.

Comparing it with a standard machine, performance was almost identical in terms of acceleration and pulling away at low revs, but the biggest advantage of the gas version was its smoother power delivery which made it more pleasurable to drive. Because the gas engine requires less interference with the exhaust to meet emissions requirements, the team has been able to improve exhaust gas flow and the result is a smooth, powerful engine noise as the tractor accelerates, well worth opening the sunroof for and a reminder of how much better all 6-cylinder tractor engines used to sound. Final prices haven’t been released, but are expected to be slightly more than an equivalent diesel model, and availability is planned within just three years. ■

A test-drive allowed comparison of a methane-powered test tractor against a diesel equivalent, and the gas-powered machine proved almost identical, but had smoother power delivery. 2140

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