t’s not a four-wheeler or side-by-side, but a cutting-edge farm utility vehicle is drawing long looks and garnering global interest. Kulan is an electric-powered agricultural vehicle designed with a minimalistic frame that makes it easy to modify to suit the operator’s needs.
Built in Germany by PolyLab, a consortium of 14 production companies and two research institutions, Kulan is electrically powered by a pair of 2.7-hp motors, one in each rear-wheel hub. The motors run off a charge from a 16 module lithium battery pack—48 volts total—positioned below the cargo platform, and the batteries are recharged through a standard 220-volt outlet. When drained, the battery packs take eight hours to recharge. Fully charged, Kulan can travel for six hours or 186 miles, with a top speed of 31 mph. The vehicle is silent and emits no exhaust. It also has no transmission—the flip of a button enables forward drive or reverse.
Twenty engineers worked on Kulan’s construction and built the frame from steel tubes. The body is fashioned from 1-mm thick steel and the weight is countered with fiber-reinforced plastics, an aluminum foam core and reinforced polyurethane. Hitting the scales at 660 lb., Kulan has a flatbed and is capable of carrying 2,200 lb. The vehicle is named after a subspecies of the Asian wild donkey.
The vehicle was created with a single question in mind, according to Marcus Knobloch, a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute and network manager for PolyLab: “What will agriculture look like in 20 years?”
It’s not yet a completed product, but PolyLab is looking for an interested manufacturer willing to invest in developing Kulan vehicles. “It is possible Kulan could reach the U.S. market in a few years,” Knobloch says.