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History of the Kawasaki MULE

by on 08/12/10 at 12:00 pm

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Kawasaki MULE LogoKawasaki Engineers on lunch break start it all

Back in the mid-1980s, a couple of Kawasaki engineers on their lunch break were discussing the agricultural industry’s need for a small, rugged off-road utility vehicle. As they scribbled their idea on a napkin, they concluded that it needed to be durable, comfortable, easy to operate, and it needed excellent hauling and towing capabilities.

That idea ultimately became the Multi-Use-Lightweight-Equipment vehicle – “MULE” – and the first model, the Mule 1000, quickly became a favorite of American farmers and ranchers.

As Kawasaki introduced new models to the American market, the many uses for the Mule expanded to include safari-type hunts, maintenance for large estates – even hauling engine parts and tires at NASCAR events.

After more than 20 years of service, the Mule name has come to define a whole category of hardworking utility vehicles. The MULE™ utility vehicle was the next step in the natural progression of Kawasaki’s successful ATV line. Built for situations where customers needed the agility of an ATV as well as the payload of a pick-up truck, the MULE  solved many problems for ranchers, golf course managers, emergency crews, industrial plant managers and even theme park staff.

A MULE is Born

With a pick-up truck type design, the first MULE  hit the market in 1988 and, like its namesake, proved so amazingly versatile that the MULE utility vehicle is now a ubiquitous sight at farms, docks, sports facilities and anyplace else where lightweight and sturdy utility vehicles are needed.

The perfect solution for thousands of job sites across the world, Kawasaki keeps the good times rolling on four wheels as well as two.

Today’s Mule off-road utility vehicle line features both two-wheel drive and 4×4 models, gas and diesel models and the Trans4x4 that transforms from a short-bed four-passenger vehicle to a long-bed two-passenger cargo hauler. All are assembled at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing in Lincoln, Nebraska, and are shipped to Kawasaki’s retail network in the U.S., as well as other Kawasaki distributorships worldwide, where these tough Kawasaki’s can help with hauling and towing.

Kawasaki MULE Model Home

1988 MULE

1988 Kawasaki MULE 1000 (KAF450B)

1988 Kawasaki MULE 1000 (KAF450B)

Featuring a pick-up truck type design, the Kawasaki MULE™ concept revolutionized the lightweight utility vehicle. Powered by a liquid-cooled 454 cc twin-cylinder engine mounted in an open-cab utility chassis with independent front and rear suspension, and rolling on four all-terrain tires with rear differential lock feature, the MULE 1000 utility vehicle was an immediate success.

1989 MULE


1990 Kawasaki MULE  2010 (KA540C)


The combination of selectable 2WD or 4WD with a Hi/Lo transmission made the MULE 2010 the most versatile utility vehicle on the market. Independent front and semi-independent rear suspension, plenty of load-carrying capacity and a reliable 535 cc engine made this MULE model suitable for almost any work environment.

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