Life’s a gas with eco-friendly tractor that runs on methane

The New Holland methane-powered tractor allows self-sufficiency in fuel.
The New Holland methane-powered tractor allows self-sufficiency in fuel.
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Eco-friendly transport entered the realms of science fiction last week when Tesla mastermind Elon Musk launched his cherry-red electric sports car into space with a mannequin known as Starman behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, another low-carbon vehicle is offering a more practical glimpse into the future.

The new tractor is the brainchild of Scotsman David Wilkie, head of CNH Industrial's design centre in Italy.

The new tractor is the brainchild of Scotsman David Wilkie, head of CNH Industrial's design centre in Italy.

It’s almost as glamorous as the roadster, with sleek lines, onboard computer, touchscreen technology, cameras, voice-control and self-steering functions.

But it’s a tractor – the world’s first to be powered by methane, which can be made from waste on farms to allow self-sufficiency in fuel.

The New Holland methane-powered tractor was created with this in mind.

It is the brainchild of Scotsman David Wilkie, head of CNH Industrial’s design centre in Italy.

The machine is still at the concept stage but the production model could be in fields near you within three years.

The machine is still at the concept stage but the production model could be in fields near you within three years.

Wilkie, who studied at Glasgow School of Art alongside Dr Who actor Peter Capaldi and previously worked for Jaguar, says he took inspiration from nature when dreaming up the vehicle. It has all the performance of its fossil-fuelled equivalent, but greener credentials.

“It was important to make it functional but there’s no reason why a tractor can’t be good-looking,” he said.

“It’s a hi-tech vehicle with a lot of important technology on board. The idea was to make life on board more comfortable, pleasing and ergonomic. It’s also much cleaner, more integrated and stylish than tractors as we know them.

“In one way it’s futuristic but it also has to be real.”

The machine is still at the concept stage but the production model could be in fields near you within three years. It’s expected to be pricier than a fossil-fuelled equivalent, which can cost more than £100,000.

A spokesman for NFU Scotland said: “The speed at which innovation and new technology is being introduced across the agricultural world is remarkable and much of the focus is on efficiency and reducing carbon footprint.

“Modern tractors are already more fuel-efficient than a decade ago; hydrogen- fuelled tractors are working in Scotland and methane may be the next power source.”