The wide expanses of Slovakia provided the backdrop to Case IH’s recent product preview, with new transmissions for two of its legendary tractor series headlining the event. James Rickard reports.
If it was not for three little letters on the side of the bonnet, CVX, you would be hard pressed to think there was anything different about Case IH’s latest Quadtrac development.
However, lurking beneath the tin work of the four track beast is now a new continuously variable transmission option (CVT).
Providing step-less speed selection from 0 to 40kph, the option will be available on Quadtrac 470, 500 and 540 models. Similarly, it will be available for the wheeled Steiger 370 to 540 models. In both cases, the top two models, 580 and 620, will not be available with this transmission option.
Vincent Hazenberg, product marketing director for Case IH Europe, Middle East and Africa explains; “At this early stage we are very much testing the water to see how much of an interest there is in a CVX Quadtrac. As such, it is sensible for us at this time to only offer the option on models which will potentially be able to make the most use of this transmission. For instance, we see it [CVX Quadtrac] being suited to jobs where the ability to precisely alter speed will be beneficial such as drilling, light cultivation, grain carting, grading and clamping. In contrast, the powershift in the two largest models is probably more suited to heavy draft cultivation work.”
The new option makes the Quadtrac 540 CVX the world’s most powerful tractor fitted with a CVT, but why do it in the first place? Mr Hazenberg says; “Looking at tractor market trends, we can see numbers of tractors being sold with CVTs is constantly increasing – about two thirds of high horse power tractors in Europe are now specified with a CVT. And as wide users of CVT technology throughout our tractor ranges, this was the next logical step for us.”
“In the last couple of years alone, we have already seen two other players produce four track tractors, so we have to constantly develop our machines and this latest Quadtrac evolution puts some distance between us and the competition.”
Unlike Case IH’s other CVTs in the rest of its portfolio which have all been developed in-house, for this project the firm turned to renowned transmission maker ZF. Mr Hazenberg comments; “Initially, we expect to sell about 15 to 20 per cent of Quadtracs with a CVT. With those low volumes in-mind, it was sensible for us to find a transmission partner.”
As a result of the investment by Case IH this will see it get exclusive use of the transmission for one year. Similar to Case IH’s own CVTs, the ZF ‘box’ also uses hydro-mechanical technology, with four ranges which change automatically. It even uses the same mounting brackets as used by the powershift transmission, meaning no chassis alterations needed for the Quadtrac.
Control and operation is also identical to the rest of Case IH’s CVX tractors, with a simple proportional lever used for speed selection. The operator can also create three ‘virtual’ ranges to work within which can be adjusted via a thumb roller incorporated into the lever, and selected via buttons. In addition, a split throttle can be used to set upper and lower rev limits, leaving the engine and transmission management to work out the most efficient operating speed.
In terms of efficiency of the new CVT compared to a powershift, it is quite hard to compare says Mr Hazenberg. “For applications where speeds are constant, particularly in heavy draft conditions, a powershift will be more efficient. In applications where speeds vary, then a CVT has the potential to save fuel. However, a CVT is a lot easier to control.”
First showings of the new CVX Quadtracs will be at the Farm Progress Show in America and Agritechnica in Europe. Limited availability will be towards the end of this year with full availability in Q1 of next year.
Depending on model, price of the CVT option will be about 30-40,000 Euros (£26,800 to £35,800) more than an equivalent powershift transmission Quadtrac.