All articles about 25 years of the XERION

From wood champion to opencast mining machine. The history of the XERION in 12 transformations.

Since it was first launched 25 years ago, the XERION has tackled many often unusual tasks. We are going to retrace the history of this exceptional machine by looking at some of the different ways in which it has been used.

The shape-shifter: right from the start, the XERION was always meant to be more than a standard farm tractor. With four equal-size wheels, continuously variable transmission, a high engine output and many other special features, it is the ideal carrier vehicle for a diverse range of applications.

Apart from standard functions such as tillage and drilling, the XERION has been used for a multitude of tasks since it was first launched 25 years ago – many more than we originally imagined. High time for a history of the system tractor in 12 transformations (to name just a few):

1. The vision

To build a carrier vehicle that could be used for a wide variety of tasks on the farm – that was the vision that Helmut Claas pursued for several years. It was almost 20 years before the first generation XERION was finally launched in 1997. The system tractor boasted continuously variable transmission and four equal-size wheels – and with a choice of four mounting areas at the front and rear, the machine could be converted into a forage harvester or even a combine harvester.


2. The cab turner

Another hallmark of the XERION is its rotating cab. This feature makes reversing much more comfortable during special applications. With normal tractors it's usually only the seat that turns, but with the XERION the whole cab rotates. So you can go from backwards to forwards at the press of a button – and vice versa.

3. The beet lifter

Some early customers of the first generation XERION used it to harvest sugar beet. A special attachment manufactured by Holmer converted the system tractor to a self-propelled beet lifter. Although the conversion worked very well, it never really caught on. The rapid pace of development in agricultural machinery meant that self-propelled sugar beet lifters eventually became so big that they could no longer be replaced by a carrier vehicle with an attachment. But here at least was proof that a system tractor could be a genuine alternative to a harvesting machine.

4. Opencast mining machine

The second generation system tractor came on the market in 2003. With up to 380 hp, the XERION 3800/3300 was exceptionally powerful – making it a sought-after machine for specialist applications right from the start. For instance, with the right attachments, the system tractor can be transformed into a valued member of an opencast mining fleet and used to move and maintain drainage pipes and well shafts. The XERION is ideal for this type of work, since its full frame gives it an enormous load capacity. What's more, its hydraulics have enough power to operate a crane lifting heavy pipes.

5. The seed drill

Seed drilling is one of the many talents of the XERION 3800/3300. Thanks to its full frame, the system tractor can carry a far larger seed hopper than normal seed drills. So the driver can cover more hectares per day during their shift since they don't have to stop as often to refill. At the same time, the XERION protects the soil as its load is evenly distributed on four equal-size wheels.

6. The fuel harvester

Poplar and willow: at one time these fast-growing trees were favoured as an alternative energy source. They were also considered to be CO2-neutral, since they release only as much carbon dioxide during combustion as they absorb during their lifetime. The XERION was often used to harvest this woody growth. The engine's high torque and PTO output are ideal for chopping. However, this area of application failed to gain widespread acceptance in the long run as in recent years pellets gradually supplanted poplar, willow and other biomass crops.

7. The wood champion

Wood chipping and stump grinding are two other specialist areas that the XERION has mastered. With high power delivered to the PTO and high hydraulic output, the flagship CLAAS tractor is in its element driving and controlling the grab. When stump grinding, it's important to drive extremely slowly and with great precision, backwards as well as forwards. With its high engine output, continuously variable transmission and rotating cab, the XERION is ideally equipped, especially the 500 hp 5000/4500 generation. The highly efficient PTO helps the tractor drive the grinder in dense thickets.

8. The hemp harvester

Whether as a medicinal product or a composite material in the automotive industry – hemp finds its way into a wide variety of products. But harvesting this crop is no easy matter: hemp harvesters have to strip the leaves, and cut, press and chop the stalks. The complexity of this process calls for especially large machines. With the right attachments, the XERION is more than up to the job thanks to its full frame and high hydraulic drive power.

9. The silage clamp master

Silage clamp work is one of the most popular uses for the XERION. Its rotating cab provides an all-round view of the working environment, while its high dead weight helps to compact the silage. And crab steering mode allows the system tractor to roll twice the area in a single pass. High torque combined with low engine speed makes fuel consumption relatively low, yet delivers impressive pushing power – so drivers can fit extra-wide silage blades and push even more material.

10. The manure spreader

The XERION excels at manure spreading too. The TRAC or SADDLE TRAC variants can pull very large, heavy tanks. And they're gentle on the soil in crab steering mode. The unique swan neck attachment ensures that the tank load lies between the axles rather than being confined to the rear axle – as with other machines. It also makes for a shorter, highly manoeuvrable combination.

11. The snow blower

Metre-high snow blocking the roads? Time to deploy the XERION. Its high PTO output makes it ideal for driving a snow blower. With high torque at low engine speeds, it can do the job particularly efficiently.

12. The all-rounder

The XERION is also used at airports for snow clearing, road sweeping, spreading and transporting loads. A genuine all-rounder. What sort of transformation will the XERION undergo next?