The Multi Tool Trac is back, or at least H2Trac is dusting it down from the ashes of its Bankruptcy in 2020 and is getting it ready to fly again.
Now renamed the H2Trac, the electrically-powered tractor was a project that first emerged back in 2015 and then underwent a major redesign in 2017 before the development firm, known as MTT, was voluntarily liquidated in 2020.
Led by industry rather than agriculture
The original company was a small Dutch consortium led by Machinefabriek Boessenkool B.V., a business that specialises in large-scale machining and mechanical engineering.
It would seem that Boessenkool is not involved with this second attempt at producing the machine.
Instead, it is being funded by private investment and is being led by Bart Budding, a financial advisor specialising in the Dutch water and energy sectors.
The new company is known as H2Trac and the tractor itself as the EOX. Although the fundamental design principle of it being an electrically-driven systems tractor remains, much else has been changed.
The most obvious revision is to its size and shape. The original machine was equipped with multiple mounting points, allowing implements to be carried between the wheels as well as at each end.
This feature has been done away with altogether and the tractor now has a conventional three-point linkage at the front and rear of a much shorter, but still quite substantial, chassis.
Other attributes that remain include four-wheel steering and variable track width which can be adjusted while in motion.
Fuel cells good, engine bad
The second great change is the replacement of the diesel engine 'range extender' by a hydrogen fuel-cell power pack, enabling the claim that it may be run completely on green energy.
As to just how green this is, will depend on the source of the hydrogen, much of that which is commercially available at present is derived from the cracking of fossil fuels.
H2Trac makes first sale
The first model was sold last June to City Farm Almere, situated just to the east of Amsterdam.
City Farm Almere describes itself as a "biodynamic enterprise active with agriculture and beef cattle husbandry". It also grows vegetables in and around the city itself.
To most of us in Ireland there is a clear distinction between town and farm, yet in the Netherlands there are various attempts at integrating the two in a movement that labels itself 'urban farming'.
Diesel: A major system error
City Centre Farm not only considers itself at the forefront of bringing town and country together but is also aiming to make itself self sufficient in its energy needs.
To this end, it will be producing hydrogen from solar panels sited on top of an old municipal waste disposal site.
Tom Saart, who owns the farm, is keen to emphasise that the operation is as clean and pure as possible and is cited as noting that diesel consumption is a "major system error" in this grand plan.
Single tractor so far
So far it is just the one tractor that has been built and that is expected to be delivered this month. Going forward there is no mention of it entering volume production in the near future.
Neither is there any mention of cost, so it is likely to remain a small-scale development project for the time being.
That it is run and financed by those with an interest primarily in alternative energy, rather than having its roots in agriculture, suggests that it will be some time before these machines are a common sight on the polders of Holland - and probably anywhere else.