Bobcat Concept Could Redefine Utility Vehicles

By Larry Stewart, Executive Editor | September 28, 2010

Bobcat's Toolcat 5600 is an all-wheel-steer, all-wheel-drive vehicle that so ingeniously combines the features of compact loaders, tool carriers, and utility vehicles that it defies all existing equipment categories. Of course, Bobcat coined a new category name: utility work machine.

Indeed the Toolcat is a real utility player. Its front loader has a tipping load of 3,000 pounds and delivers 17 gallons of auxiliary hydraulic flow per minute at 3,000 psi. The standard Bobtach quick coupler is already approved to handle 18 types of attachments—15 that Bobcat builds—and there are three brand-new Bobcat attachments designed with Toolcat in mind. The dumping cargo body will carry 2,000-pound payloads, and the machine will also tow 4,000 pounds on a 2-inch receiver hitch. So Toolcat is much more than what most people think of as a tool carrier or a utility vehicle.

The drive system is full-time four-wheel drive. Hydrostatic pumps pipe power out to independent hydrostatic drives mounted on each axle. Torque rolls through the wheels so effectively that the rear differential lock seems redundant. The diff lock is there, but the hydrostats produce enough grunt that even a magazine editor can dig pretty aggressively in a sandy Florida lot without feeling the need to micromanage traction.

Toolcat's suspension seems to deliver significant advantages in loader work. Bobcat designed the front springs with more down travel than up. When the machine crosses rough terrain, its wheels follow the contours and maintain traction, but rubber stops in the suspension limit upward travel. When the boom is loaded, Toolcat settles down on the stops for stability.

Bobcat turned editors loose with some prototypes in Orlando. I picked up a 1,700-pound weight on pallet forks and ran the machine quickly through a series of figure-eights. With four wheels steering, the circles were tight enough to make me dizzy, but the machine handled the load confidently.

Cab controls are pickup-truck like. There's a steering wheel, brake pedal and a drive pedal. A hand throttle controls engine speed, and the drive pedal adjusts output of the hydraulic motors. It allows you to crank up the engine to rated speed for powering attachments like a soil conditioner, sprayer, or snowblower while you creep the vehicle along at a slow ground speed.

Like a wheel loader, there's a pilot-hydraulic joystick at the operator's right hand to control the boom. A lever on the left side of the steering column shuttles the drive system between forward and reverse.

Bobcat designed the machine with a 5,000-hour life in mind. With a price tag expected to be about $30,000, Toolcat is certain to separate the ATV shoppers from those who have a genuine need for its hard-working features.

Basic Specifications
*With everything except the optional cab, heat and air conditioning
Tipping load 3,000 lbs.
Dump height 7 feet
Auxiliary hydraulics 17 gpm @ 3,000 psi
Cargo payload 2,000 lbs.
Towing capacity 4,000 lbs.
Width 5 feet
Ground clearance 10 inches
Weight 4,400 lbs.
Engine 44-hp Kubota diesel
Expected price $30,000*

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