Multi-function model could soon be on test
DEVELOPMENT of the Claas Xerion continues. Described by the company as a "prime mover" and not, as some might be tempted to call it, a tractor, it was first seen as a prototype in 1993.
Spurred on by what is described as enthusiastic customer reaction, Claas has now added some stylish refinements with view to placing some test models throughout Europe next year, and starting commercial production in 1997.
But to recap on what the Xerion has to offer. In its raw state, the machine comprises a 10t, four-wheel-drive flat-bed unit to which a range of implements can be attached and operated. For example, a sugar beet harvester, slurry tanker, power harrow drill combination, spraying equipment number among the numerous pieces of kit which can be fitted. Maximum payload is 20t.
To accommodate such a wide range of attachments, the machines cab is designed to be moved into different positions on the deck – an operation which only takes a few minutes to complete. One of three positions can be selected: centre rear, centre front and front offset. Forward or rear facing can also be selected.
Power for the Xerion is provided by either 200hp, 250hp or 300hp American-built Navistar/Perkins engines driving through the companys novel HM-8 transmission – a system which combines hydrostatic drive with mechanical drive.
The result is an eight-speed 40kmh unit offering stepless travel speed selection in each gear ratio.
Prime advantage of the system is that maximum power, if required, is always available for any given ground speed.
But there are further refinements. The operator can select one of four modes:
• Constant power with a lever used to increase or decrease ground speed.
• Automatic gear change as in an automatic transmission.
• Economy mode.
• Constant speed – all of which are automatically controlled.
Capable of being operated in forward or reverse, the HM-8s performance is designed to be identical in either direction.
A good smattering of pto points – two in the rear, one in the centre and one at the front – enable power to be connected to most attachments without the need for complicated drive trains.
Other Xerion features include four wheel steer – front or rear wheel only, four wheel crab and four wheel opposite. Joystick steering of the rear axle is also possible. Lift capacity of the rear linkage is rated at 9t with the front linkage able to support 4.5t.
So what is the future for the Claas Xerion? Costing in the region of £100,000, it is not a cheap machine, and when a range of implements has been purchased, it calls for a pretty hefty investment from Day One.
Even so, Claas is clearly convinced there is a market for the Xerion.
Time will show whether the company will succeed where so many have failed.