Any correlation between the rising cost of diesel fuel and the introduction of the Challenger TECHStar continuously variable transmission (CVT) may be purely coincidental.

However, that certainly doesn't diminish its timeliness, or benefits owners of TECHStar-equipped Challenger tractors are experiencing.

“The TECHStar transmission was first introduced last year on the MT500B Series tractors as an option to the AutoPower IV 32F X 32R transmission,” says Adrian Crisp, general marketing manager for Challenger high-horsepower wheel tractors.

“However, Challenger took productivity and efficiency a step further by making the TECHStar CVT standard equipment on the new MT600B Series, introduced earlier this spring.”

Invented and perfected by a Challenger sister brand, the TECHStar CVT is backed by more than 10 years of research, development and production. Today, more than 40,000 of these CVT transmissions are in service worldwide. Using a combination of proven hydrostatic transmission technology with conventional mechanical efficiency, the TECHStar CVT provides the operator with an unsurpassed level of economy and performance through stepless transmission technology.

“By using both its mechanical and hydrostatic capabilities at the same time, the TECHStar CVT not only operates more efficiently, but it does so without preset gear limits,” says Crisp. “With stepless variable speed, the operator has access to the power reserves, as well as the speed choices, normally hidden in the areas between gears.”

According to Barry O' Shea, sales engineer for Challenger wheel tractors, that alone can make a significant difference in the number of acres covered…and the gallons of fuel consumed in a single day.

“Say, for example, you're able to pull a 30 foot chisel at 6.4 mph with a TECHStar-equipped tractor instead of the 5.7 mph gear limit on a competitive powershift,” O'Shea explains. “The difference in speed adds up to an extra 36 acres in a 14-hour day, and that's just one operation on one day. Imagine the potential for fuel savings.”

However, customers have had equal praise for the TECHStar transmission in applications like crop spraying, where a constant ground speed is critical for accuracy; or harvesting with PTO-drive equipment, where it's important to keep engine speed at a steady level.

“Despite its advanced technology, the TECHStar transmission is extremely simple and intuitive to operate,” said Crisp. “The operator simply moves the power control lever, located on the left side of the steering column, to select the desired travel direction. This lever also serves as the shuttle control, which, when activated, causes the tractor to automatically slow to a stop, reverse direction and accelerate to the programmed speed shown on the dash display.

“A second lever on the armrest console controls the ground speed,” Crisp added. “The farther you push the lever, the faster you accelerate.”

If desired, the operator can also shift mode and speed selection to a foot pedal, which drives like a pickup truck. Other features include two “SV” dials for pre-selecting often-used operating speeds quite similar to using the cruise control feature, a range selector switch, and an engine supervisor function, which automatically adjusts the forward speed of the tractor in response to engine speed loss.

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