GRAPEVINE, Texas (DTN) -- For nearly five years, the rumors of Kubota's entry into the "high horsepower" tractor market have been circulating as the company quietly made purchases of companies making hay-handling equipment, tillage tools and planters that required much more tractor than Kubota's inventory could muster.
That changed Tuesday night when Kubota unveiled the M8 tractor to its dealers and members of the press in Grapevine, Texas, in the company of several hundred dealers and Kubota management from the U.S., Canada and Japan.
The long-awaited M8 is the product of a 4-year-old collaborative agreement (announced a year ago) between the Japanese tractor manufacturer and Canadian manufacturer Buhler Industries, the maker of Versatile tractors.
The M8 is built in Winnipeg alongside Buhler's Versatile line and represents a rare collaborative relationship of an OEM cooperating with another manufacturer in building a high-profile ag tractor capable of row-crop use in North American and European fields.
In another surprising debut, the two new M8 models are powered by an American-made B6.7 L Tier 4 Final Cummins six-cylinder diesel engine rated at 190 horsepower (M8-191) and 210 HP (M8-211). The engines' output ratings at the PTO are 162 HP and 178 HP, respectively.
Both power plants feature non-EGR emission systems that feature selective catalyst reduction, diesel particulate filter and diesel oxidation catalyst in a single unit. The engines breathe through a Holset variable geometry turbocharger.
"Kubota continues to accelerate our market presence in North America by diversifying our product lines to meet the growing demands of Kubota dealers and customers," said Haruyuki (Harry) Yoshida, president and CEO of Kubota Tractor Corporation and Kubota North America Corporation. "We are making bold moves with the debut of the M8 Series to establish our presence in the segment and position ourselves to steadily grow our share."
With its eye specifically on the large utility and material-handling tractor market, the commercial hay and forage market, as well as the mid-sized row-crop market, Kubota expects to create synergies for the M8 Series and complementary implements with other areas of its businesses and affiliate supply chains, he explained.
The new tractors share much engineering found in the company's M7, released in 2015 with 170 HP. The cab particularly is reminiscent of the M7 control layout but the M8's cab is billed as an "office with a view," complete with 148 cubic feet of space and well-engineered visibility down both sides of the four-pillar enclosure. In addition, panoramic views are available through the windshield and the back glass, as well as a top-front-mounted "sun-roof" designed to give the operator unparalleled visibility when lifting heavy loads with front-end hydraulics.
The control layout keeps the M7's single multi-functional intuitive joystick, and the cab is well appointed with 12-volt outlets for various displays and tablets, along with USB receptacles and a standard air-suspension seat and 7-inch K-monitor. Options include a semi-active seat suspension and a 12-inch K-monitor.
The M8 is ISOBUS ready for any advanced ISOBUS implements, and Kubota's Headland Control allows for customized tractor control between power and implements in any field configuration.
Growers can choose a 30X15 fully electronic-controlled semi-powershift transmission with speeds up to 40 kilometers per hour and six powershift gears per range, or Kubota's variable transmission with an infinite number of forward and reverse speeds. Transport speeds climb to 50 km/h with an optional suspended front axle.
Hydraulic power on the new machines is rated at 37.1 gallons per minute for the standard implement pump flow, with an optional 42.2-gallon system available. The three-point lift system is rated at 12,478 pounds at 24 inches behind the lift points, with an optional lift capacity of 15,543 pounds available. These M8 tractors carry 99 gallons of fuel and 9 gallons of DEF.
Front axles on the M8 come standard with a rigid limited-slip differential, with options including a suspended full-locking differential, or a rigid full-locking differential available only in the U.S.
The M8 tips the scales at 19,510 pounds.
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