The Gator Compact Series from John Deere (Cary, NC, U.S.) was one of the many products introduced at the Expo in the fast-growing residential utility vehicle (UV) segment. Built especially for smaller property owners, the unit’s compact steel frame is said to allow for maneuverability around the property, easy storage, and transportation of a full-size pick-up truck. “The precision-engineered drive train allows the vehicle to work hard in many conditions—whether it’s hauling up to 400 lbs in the cargo box, towing up to 600 lbs, or plowing snow,” explains Roseann Bischof, brand product specialist for the Compact Series.
The compact unit is said to achieve a tight, 19-ft, 9-in turn clearance circle, offering users increased maneuverability. “The turn clearance circle is determined by the vehicle width, the wheelbase, and the steering geometry,” Ms. Bischof explains. “We utilize a manual rack and pinion steering gear box that provides excellent feel and feedback while maintaining a light feel at the steering wheel.”
The four-cycle gas engine reportedly provides improved fuel economy, enabled by a drive train that acts as a seamless unit to perform a given task with the least engine rpm possible. “Lower engine rpm means lower fuel consumption,” Ms. Bischof notes.
The vehicle was also designed to maintain a low center of gravity for enhanced safety. According to Ms. Bischof, the engine and transmission were located as low as possible in the design, and the cargo box was centered over the rear wheels, as opposed to hanging off the back end, which can greatly affect stability. “A lower center of gravity inherently provides other benefits such as low step-in height and low cargo box load height,” she adds.
To keep design costs low, Ms. Bischof says John Deere engineers had to analyze multiple design and manufacturing process—even if it meant trying something new. “While the Gator Compact Series is about two-thirds the size of a mid-duty Gator, that doesn’t necessarily translate into two-thirds of the cost,” Ms. Bischof says. As a result, the engineers ended up using as many common parts from other models as possible and also designed interlocking parts that not only minimized the use of fasteners, but also helped contribute to the unit’s clean look.