Just a few weeks ago, we conducted a survey of dealers to see where things stand with the great EGR vs. SCR debate taking place among the farm equipment manufacturers. It was a follow-up to the survey we took a year ago on dealers’ concerns about introducing Exhaust Gas Recirculation and Selective Catalytic Reduction engine technologies.
You can read about the survey results in the August issue of Ag Equipment Intelligence.
Sometimes the more interesting story comes from the dealer commentary than from the hard numbers. So, we asked dealers the open-ended question, “What could manufacturers do to help ease your or your customers’ concerns?” about the new engine technologies.
Far and away, dealers most often said, “Educate, advertise and promote.” That is, continue to get the word out about the new engines. Comments included: “Better public awareness from the manufacturers” … “Educate the customer through advertising” … “Develop and distribute educational marketing pieces.”
The dealer commentary was also rife with frustration, mostly with the contradictory claims coming from the manufacturers. As one dealer put it, “We need information to set the record straight for the customer. It does not need to appear as a sales pitch — just the facts.”
Another said, “Run real world, side-by-side tests of tractors using the different technologies and compile maintenance, fuel efficiency and repair data comparisons. This should be done on a farm and not Nebraska [Test Labs]. They should be done more like the real world tests being done in Europe.”
Yet another dealer really hit it dead on when he wrote, “They need to do fact-based education about the different methods, which would apply to all vehicles. Manufacturers tend to put their spin on this, which, in this case, is wrong!”
We all know what these dealers are talking about. Their real frustration comes from the confusing claims coming from the manufacturers about the efficiency, maintenance, power and other assorted benefits of their new engines.
When all is said and done, I don’t believe any of the manufacturers are misrepresenting the benefits of their new engines. They’re simply using “selective data” as their selling points. Which, of course, is the major contributor to customer confusion. It’s difficult at best sorting through all of it. And considering a lot of the new farm equipment costs as much or more than the houses we live in, it’s no wonder that farmers may hesitate when making a buying decision about something new.
Several dealers suggested that manufacturers could extend the warranties on the new equipment as a way of demonstrating confidence in the technology they’re putting out there (it worked for Hyundai) and to ease customer concerns. But don’t hold your breath on this one as long as the market for new machinery remains as strong as it has been.
You know and I know the real solution to this challenge, as always, will come down to the dealer. Your customers want you to sort through all the spin and selective data for them. The better you do it, the more confidence the customer will have in you and the products you’re selling them. This means you need to know your competitor’s products as well as you know your own.