Can the Electric Kulan Create A Profitable Agro Niche?

EV World runs some of the numbers on the economics of operating the Kulan electric agro hauler just introduced in prototype form in Germany.

Published: 03-Jan-2015

John Deere, Kubota, Mahindra: all well-recognized names in the agriculture industry, the latter two especially in the small and hobby farm fields. And all are totally reliant on fossil fuels and the monopolistic dependency and pollution it brings.

While a handful of farmers have experimented with electrifying their tractors – the Allis-Chalmers G Modelbeing a prime example – there hasn’t been a great deal of serious effort put into cleaning up the farm tractor’s act.

Enter the Kulan, named for the now-endangered Equus hemionus hemionus, the wild ass of Asia. Jointly developed by a consortium of 14 organizations in Germany, the all-electric agro vehicle isn’t necessarily designed to replace the traditional tractor, but to fill a potential niche between it and the family pickup truck.

Designed by Felix Götze, Tom Mudra and Hans-Tobias Schicktanz, it weighs 300 kg (660 lbs.) and is powered by a pair of 2kW rear electric hub motors. The 16 module lithium battery pack mounted under the integrated cargo bin can haul just over one tonne (900+ kg) of farm produce, feed, or equipment. It offers a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph) and a claimed range of 186 miles per charge. That’s enough energy for six continuous hours of operation, the developers claim.

EV World decided to take a closer look at the potential economics of the Kulan. While no pricing as been set and the consortium is looking for potential partners to help commercialize it, we thought it might be useful to put pen to paper, so-to-speak. What kind of economics would a small-scale ag operation need to be able to afford something like this?

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