Four Farm Equipment Editors, covering North America's two largest machinery exhibitions in mid-February — the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., and the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., — share what they saw in the way of new introductions for Tractors that the market will see in 2008.
CUB CADET YANMAR, the joint venture that was announced at the 2007 National Farm Machinery Show, unveiled its Sc2400 subcompact tractor, which will be shipped this month. According to Michael Reali, the design incorporated a lot of customer research, including a wider operator station, grab handle, worklights, dual hydraulic pump for no loss of power, high-low speed control and a 60-in. curved boom loader that offers the highest lift capacity in its class. The Sc2400 follows upon the 2008 introductions that featured the EX2900 and EX3200 subcompact tractors in 28.7 and 32 hp, respectively. "The joint-venture was founded on this segment only, 50 hp and below," he says, noting that the line will expand its horsepower offering up to that threshold starting in 2009. There will also be a full line of implements and factory-installed cabs, he says.
BOBCAT displayed its new line of 20-30 hp hydrostatic-transmission compact tractors, the CT 120, CT225 and CT230, which appeared at select dealerships in October. Another six tractors (up to 50 hp) are expected by mid-year, says Michael Amerman. "Compact tractors fit very well with our business model, as a very large percentage of our current Bobcat dealers today are carrying a tractor. It complements our other products too," he says, citing core markets as hobby farmers, homeowners with farmland and landscapers. Amerman, who notes 150 dealers to date, would like to see 300 sites in the years ahead, and is getting requests from non-Bobcat dealers.
BUHLER VERSATILE unveiled four new 4WD tractor models in horsepowers of 300-400 that are powered by Cummins engines and feature Quadrashift or 12 x 2 powershift transmissions. "Buhler is responding to customer demands for 4WD tractors with a bigger cab and more weight in the 300-400-hp range," says Eric Allison. "This new tractor has a longer wheelbase, more fuel capacity and a bigger cooling package than the outgoing model. It also has the same cab and cab options as the successful High Horsepower Tractor range (435-535 hp), which means more interior space and an available training seat." The new Versatile 300-400 horsepower tractors will be available in limited quantities in May.
TYM-USA, which recently moved into a new 100,000-sq.-ft. facility in North Carolina and is now importing direct to the U.S., introduced its new 90 and 100-hp tractors at the show, the T903 and T1003, which filled a market void with the firm's previous 23-70 hp offering. "With the T1003's 32 forward and 32 reverse speeds, we have a solution for the professional farmer," says Andy Robson. "Before, with the 70-hp unit, we were limited to perhaps a smaller hay farmer at best." Asked what the firm brings to the dealer, he says, "True R&D, a competitive and high-spec tractor and an industry-leading 5-year warranty."
MAHINDRA USA exhibited its new 2525 for the first time in Louisville. The 25-hp engine is designed for rugged versatility and affordability in an easy-to-operate tractor for first-time buyers. Key features communicated at the show were the easy-maintenance forward-rotating grille guard, easy-to-read dash, sleek, ergonomic design and heavier, sturdier three-point linkages.
KIOTI showcased its new DK90 tractor, which has been in the U.S. just 6 months. According to Ron Parrish, the 90-hp tractor is geared directly at the ag market, and makes the line even more attractive to its 300 dealers and prospects. The 268 cu.-in. turbocharged Perkins diesel engine and 16 synchro shuttle gears, makes the unit the firm's most powerful tractor to date, he says.
BRANSON TRACTORS highlighted five new 00 tractor models, including the 2800 (a 28-hp model available in both a mechanical and hydrostatic versions). Other new products include the two 4WD 35- and 47-hp tractors (3510 hydrostatic and 4720 hydrostatic, respectively), 10 and 20 series self-leveling loaders, and three backhoe models. According to Bruce Kee, 300 dealers are currently handling Branson, with an additional 100 projected by year's end.
JCB used its display to highlight the new 7000 series Fastrac, which was introduced at Agritechnica last November and features three high-performance tractors in the 173-220 hp range. In addition, the firm also introduced its new 526-56 Agri Loadalls (5,500 lb. lift capacity) and the 409 wheel loader (the firm's most compact unit). The firm recently hired several new territory managers, which will allow it to more aggressively pursue new dealers in those areas, says Ray Bingley. He added that JCB Agriculture in North America set record sales in 2007, including earning the number-one position with ag telescopic handlers.
MONTANA TRACTORS showed the U-Series premium utility tractor (45, 47 and 57 hp) for the first time in Louisville, which improved upon existing versions with important redesigns, ergonomics and ease of access both inside the cab and with implement and attachment hookups. It also showcased its new I-Series tractor, a mid-spec unit designed for the farmer doing utility jobs to light farming. According to Edwin Teoh, the unit is value-priced between compact and utility tractors, and is available in 47 hp (4WD) and 37 hp (2WD). The unit is exclusively manufactured for Montana by India's International Tractors. Also on display in its exhibit was the new Big Horn UTV300, now branded under the Montana name.
KUBOTA showed two new tractors, the MX5100 utility tractor (50 hp) and the M95X mid-size tractor (95 hp) currently being offered to its 1,040 dealers. At Tulare, Paul Williams highlighted the new 54-in. wide M8540 Power Krawler, which is being aimed at those working tight spaces (like vineyards and orchards) yet seeking superior traction, power and maneuverability. "This go-anywhere tractor offers the best of two worlds, 4WD and tracks," he says. "At our dealer meeting, some other creative ideas were identified in other markets, like operating a silt fence plow, trail-grooming snow trails and in taller poultry barns."
ANTONIO CARRARO added to its reputation as a leading manufacturer of specialized tractors with the introduction of its new TRH bi-directional tractor in Tulare . According to Bruce Clark, this new concept in utility tractors was designed for applications where forward and reverse action in quick succession are needed. This unit features a 4-speed automatic hydrostatic transmission and is particularly suited for orchard, vineyard and forestry applications. Clark says this 85-hp tractor is also finding applications in dairy and green area maintenance.
The second-largest tractor maker in China used Tulare to roll out its new line that is branded the TRACTOR FACTORY Plantation Pro-Series LE and XL in North America. John Pyle is heading up distribution of the new tractors and says he's looking for dealers and regional assembly dealerships. Pyle says 9 models are available, including cabbed tractors in 35 hp and above that use Perkins diesel engines. Complete franchise service is available including exclusive territories, marketing and sales assistance, and floor plans for qualified dealers.
FOTON LOVOL rolled out its FT125 series, the biggest horsepower tractor the company offers in North America, according to Ding Liming. These units are available with cabs and AC. Liming says the company is in the process of setting up a parts center in the U.S. and is currently looking for dealers to provide additional distribution throughout North America.
DEUTZ FAHR highlighted its AgroFarm 85 and 100-hp tractors, what Dave Petri described as a high-class utility tractor with an open and roomy cab that has been very popular with the dairy segment. Key features, he says, are hydraulic shuttle, 20-speed transmission, three sets of remotes and two-speed PTO.