A New Zealand company is about to launch a unique Kiwi designed and built electric-powered all- terrain vehicle at the National Fieldays which it believes is safer, more stable, reliable and environmentally friendly than any fossil fuel powered quad bike on the market.
Switch EV Global is a Warkworth based company that specialises in converting cars to electric power using the latest lithium polymer batteries it imports for the purpose.
The batteries are smaller, lighter and more efficient than the older heavier batteries used in electric powered vehicles in the past.
The company's e3 electric ATV has been developed "because we believe the current offerings for small utility vehicles in the farm environment are not where they need to be for a number of reasons", says Switch EV Global partner Gerrard Merrick.
"It's a totally unique vehicle and we've seen nothing else quite like it in the 18 months it has taken to develop it," he says.
"We feel this vehicle is considerably safer than current offerings and it has proven itself to be a far more capable vehicle in a range of challenging on-farm conditions negotiating mud and steep terrain."
The e3 has a longer and wider wheelbase than the largest quads and a lower centre of gravity with the batteries carried just above the axles, which means passengers are seated 25-30cms lower than they would be on a quad.
The vehicle seats two people side by side and has a greater load carrying capacity than quad bikes with a larger tray on the back. With two people aboard it weighs around 380kg and has a towing capacity of about 600kg.
The vehicle's range between charges is about 15 kilometres in a diverse range of on-farm conditions, but Merrick says it could go a lot further than that on flat ground.
The company's own research had shown quad bikes travelled on average about 11km a day.
Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than combustion engines so are inherently more reliable with less specialised servicing required.
The e3 is driven by independent dual electric motors with very high torque that gives them superior climbing ability to most fossil-fuel driven vehicles.
The company describes its e3 as "cordless" because it comes with two or more optional battery packs that can easily be dropped in or out of the vehicle for charging.
In fact one of the options the company offers is a three kiloWatt inverter that allows users to plug power tools into the machine's batteries in remote locations.
With zero emissions and quiet operational noise levels the manufacturers say the machine will have useful applications in conservation areas, in vineyards or indoors in the likes of cowhouses where growers want to avoid carbon monoxide emissions.
The company has put a prototype machine through challenging on-farm trials to test the limits of its abilities and will show videos of those trials at Mystery Creek.
Full production machines range in price from $11,000 to $16,000 depending on the options required.
- Waikato Times
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