Visionary tractor concept is as entrancing as the wine it helps create
Farm machinery specialist New Holland Agriculture has teamed with the automotive design mavericks at Pininfarina to present a concept that's sexier than a tractor should be. Designed to improve upon the way premium specialty grapes are tended to, the pod-like Straddle Tractor Concept navigates multiple rows through steep, narrow hillside vineyards to do its part in bringing the most luscious, aromatic reds and whites to dinner tables and cocktail hours the world over.
As much as we love Pininfarina's classic and modern automotive work, it's always interesting to view common, everyday objects through the firm's eyes. The Straddle Concept isn't actually the first tractor concept we've seen from the famed house of design, but it's certainly the most arresting and forward-looking.
New Holland says that the tall, slim Straddle was penned specifically for use on the narrow slope-side vineyards of some of the world's most celebrated wine regions, from Champagne to Burgundy. It explains that such vineyards have rows of grapes separated by no more than 1.5 m (4.9 ft), often built into steep hills, necessitating the handpicking of grapes and maintenance performed by tractors that sweep over top the rows.
The Straddle Concept explores applying cutting-edge design and tech toward making the grower's job easier while looking rather fetching doing so. In fact, it's not hard to envision a high-net-worth investor enjoying the Straddle show while sipping on a glass of Cot.
Influenced heavily by its surroundings, the robust rounded glasshouse and tapered shape of the Straddle front-end derive from the form of a champagne flute. The round glass is a cleaner, more seamless reimagining of the square framed glass on current-generation New Holland grape harvesters, and the blue paint is similar to the color many current-gen New Holland products wear, albeit a deeper shade of royal azure that absolutely pops atop the flowing curves of the Straddle body, perhaps an evolution of the blue Pininfarina's Battista hypercar wears when jumping between streets and ballrooms.
The wraparound glass swings out just enough to let the operator in, then delivers a clear view of his or her surroundings. The single rotating armchair sits front and center, surrounded by wood trim inspired by wine barrels. Up near the headliner, a digital widescreen provides cabin controls for the likes of HVAC and audio.
The Straddle earns its name by multiplying its width at the push of a button, stretching its wheels out to straddle multiple rows while a rear module spreads several rows farther like a pair of wings, allowing one machine to do a multi-row sweep for each pass.
New Holland says little about the mechanicals of its concept, leaving it to serve as a design study. The company does note that it's compatible with electric powertrain technology, serving as part of the company's Clean Energy Leader Strategy, which seeks to shift agriculture away from fossil fuel dependence and toward more sustainable energy solutions. The airless tires, meanwhile, eliminate rubber and flats.
New Holland doesn't mention any near or distant plan to build a Straddle-inspired tractor, so it looks like farmers are stuck with rougher utilitarian designs like the Braud High-Capacity Grape Harvester just above. You can get a closer look at the Straddle in the short video clip below.
Source: New Holland