Finding a safer alternative to the all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has been a major motivator behind the introduction of the Taska Utility terrain vehicle (UTV) to Australia, says Steve Allen, managing director of Taska Australia .
On researching farm accident statistics, it is found that a high number of all farm accidents involved ATVs and a number of children under the age of 16 are killed on these machines every year.
Mr Allen grew up on a farm in Canada, farmed in NZ and managed different agricultural related companies, so comes with a strong background in the ag industry and is well aware of the risks to life and lime in this environment.
He set out to find a vehicle that would make for a safe, more reliable and affordable alternative to the ATV. This was found in International Machinery Imports which had set up a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer. The Chinese partners have recently spent US $30 million upgrading their facility and have recruited engineering expertise from a Chinese University to oversee quality controls at the factory.
The Taska Prototype was built in China under the guiding hand of Mr Gilbert. Parts and components were scavenged from readily available sources and work was done with a family-owned engineering company that previously specialised in ‘walking tractors’ and small trucks.
“Its clean, its simple. Its ruggedly constructed using off-the-shelf automotive components and is heavier in construction that an ATV. There is nothing new in terms of technology,” Mr Allen said. “This machine has been designed by a Kiwi for NZ hill conditions and Australia’s severe climate. Farming is about families, this machine is about safety and the family and was a big factor.” The Taska UTV ‘Stallion’, the model introduced to the Australian market, has two bucket seats with head supports, seat belts and a full roll-over frame. It is a light utility with steering wheel, full dash panel and can legally carry passengers.
Other features include heavy duty independent suspension, two or four-wheel drive on demand, rear tipping tray, full lights, windscreen and hard top roof.
The 800 cc three cylinder water-cooled petrol engine delivers power-to-ground drive through a heavy duty 5 speed manual transmission, so it has ‘proper engine braking’ and disc brakes on all four wheels for safe use on hill country as well as flat.
In the past UTVs were regarded as to expensive when compared with the cheaper ATV option. But Mr Allen believes the international and local market and economics has evolved making the UTV the acceptable and sought after utility vehicle for work and other pursuits such as camping, fishing and hunting. One option includes a Golf Cart package that can replace the tray including a tyre spec change. In the USA the demand for these machines was increasing at a rate of 15,000 to 20,000 units a year, he said.
When Taska was introduced to Australia, a national network of dealers is being strategically set up throughout the country to provide the back-up and product support. This is a machine that will be part of the future of farming and contracting as well as the weekender getting you to those difficult leaving the minimal of a foot print, not accessible in the past.