The Future Of Farming Is Here…Allegedly

The all-electric craze has spread to farming equipment. Read MAC's take on the electric KULAN, and whether he would buy one (if he h...


The all-electric craze has spread to farming equipment. Read MAC's take on the electric KULAN, and whether he would buy one (if he had a farm).

This futuristic-looking electric-powered vehicle is the future of farming - if you believe the good folks over at Poly-lab, a co-operative of 14 German design and research companies. The stripped-back and svelte-like vehicle is reported to be able to carry a tonne of cargo yet it weighs in at a paltry 660lbs, about a quarter the weight of a small pick-up truck, according to Marcus Kobloch, the Project Manager for Poly-lab.net.

“Our aim is to show what agriculture might look like in 20 years,” Knobloch says of the Kulan, and of course we all know that a Kulan is a donkey-like animal heralding from Asia and also known as the Asian wild ass.

“We decided to call our vehicle the Kulan because like the animal for which it’s named, it can carry large loads and is reliable,” he explains. “It’s not a car and not a tractor. It’s something in between – a little helper that can transport things a farmer needs on a small or medium-size farm, such as animal feed or harvested fruit. And since there is no noise or exhaust fumes, the Kulan doesn’t disturb farm animals.”

It wasn’t clear from the press release if this is a scaled-down or full-size version but this Kulan has a pair of 2kW electric motors, one in each rear-wheel hub, and powered by 16 lithium-ion batteries, producing 48 volts total, located beneath the vehicle’s cargo platform; the batteries are rechargeable via any 220-volt electrical outlet. Because the vehicle is relatively light, it can travel up to 185 miles or operate for six hours, depending on variables such as cargo weight and temperature, with a top speed of approximately 50kph. Like some road-going electronic vehicles, there is no transmission; the push of a button puts the Kulan either in forward drive or in reverse apparently.

The Kulan is constructed from hollow steel tubes with 1mm thick steel used for the body work and also fibre-reinforced plastics to help reduce the weight. The cargo bed is a sandwich of aluminium with a foam core lined with polyurethane.

Having grown up in a farming area - the same area where Ford manufactured tractors - and seen first hand the evolution of the simple tractor into a modern day behemoth, it would appear that the Kulan would be more suited to the type of ‘hobby’ farmer that Germany is famous for and not for the large industrial-scale farming we see in a lot of the rest of the world. For instance, there does not appear to be any space for the attachment of ploughs or drills, haymakers or hoes, and I am not sure that the poor little Kulan could pull them if it did. What’s more, I can’t imagine trading in the heated cab in my New Holland tractor for the open exposed cockpit of the Kulan on a rainy day in winter. But, in a way I don’t care; if I had a farm I would buy one because it is cool.

Not many people know this…

Whilst Lamborghini is famous for starting life as a farm machinery manufacturing company, not many people realise that one of Ferdinand Porsche’s early success was with the Volks-Schlepper, or 'people’s tractor', which went into production in 1934 alongside his other early creation, the Volkswagen Beetle. 


images: bbc.com, roadandtrack.com

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