The creative yet practical thinking behind the Steyr Konzept, a striking study of the future of tractor development, has been recognized with a 2020 ‘Good Design’ award, in the world’s most prestigious prize scheme for design excellence. In addition to the radical styling of the machine, the award also acknowledges its forward-thinking technology, including an innovative hybrid power system combining a conventional engine, a generator and electric drives.
Established in Chicago in 1950, by American designers Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames, the annually-presented Good Design awards are the oldest and most widely-recognized of their type, and are administered by the Chicago Athenaeum’s Museum of Architecture and Design. The 70th edition of the judging, held during November 2020, saw record entry numbers exceeding 900 from manufacturers and designers hailing from over 48 countries, and representing a wide range of sectors. Final judging took place online in November 2020, and the STEYR Konzept was the only tractor among the final award winners.
Design acknowledges past, points to future
Blending innovative technologies to create a tractor that answers many of the critical challenges facing agriculture, the STEYR Konzept was designed in conjunction with powertrain specialist FPT, a sister brand of STEYR under parent company CNH Industrial. The result highlights the potential direction of environmentally friendly, efficient and functional yet stylish tractor design.
“The futuristic lines of the Konzept’s external styling recognise the importance in agricultural machinery of both trusted brand heritage and forward-thinking design,” says David Wilkie, Head of the CNH Industrial Design team that together with our Innovation team, created this design concept.
“At the same time, the white external cab frame and asymmetric grille recall STEYR’s long history as a stylish high-end tractor brand. Our ultimate aim, though, was to create striking elements of style that, when combined with the designs of our engineers, also bring practical benefits in areas ranging from performance to visibility to sustainability.”
Other external design features of significant practical benefit include cab-mounted cameras, while interior concepts include the projection of operating data onto transparent screens, maximising visibility, and a ‘digital farm office’, allowing farm management to take place from the operator’s seat. A head-up display projects key vehicle information into the driver’s field of vision.
Drivetrain design innovation
The STEYR Konzept’s innovative design continues within the tractor’s drivetrain, a modular hybrid electric drive combining a conventional four-cylinder diesel engine, generator and individual electric wheel motors. This blends compactness, efficiency and thought-through engineering, and allows different power sources to be used depending on application. As a result, the tractor can be operated with zero noise/exhaust emissions where possible/required.
STEYR hybrid technology means power can be provided not only by the conventional engine, but by the engine-driven generator, or from a conventional plug supply, with energy capture also possible via recovery and storage capabilities. It also networks the tractor’s electric motors, ensuring power is always available where needed, while an e-torque boost, fed from a central battery, can supply additional energy at peak power demand. The result is highly efficient electric continuously-variable drive, and the tractor design is further enhanced by the absence of need for a conventional transmission or hydraulic components, meaning fewer moving parts, greater efficiency of energy transfer and reduced power/energy losses. This is extended further through the use of electric drive to also power the tractor’s PTO and hydraulic systems.
Immediately-available torque provides an immediate response at the wheels, while electric motors also mean the machine’s centre of gravity is closer to the ground, ensuring better stability. Four-wheel steering and individual wheel motors also mean a high degree of manoeuvrability, minimise noise and allow for single-wheel suspension for additional comfort.
“Within the external styling of the Konzept study created by our design team, our engineers have been able to re-examine how comfort, efficiency and sustainability can be combined in a tractor, and to show the full potential of technologies under development,” notes Peter Friis, STEYR Head of Commercial Operations in Europe.
“To have its merits acknowledged with this ‘Good Design’ award is something of which we are very proud.”