GRAPEVINE, Texas (DTN) -- Kubota told its 670 owner-dealers last week during its Kubota Connect dealer meetings that it is working to increase production by restructuring portions of its parts sourcing practices.
"We know the No. 1 dealer concern, we're hearing it loudly here, is supply," Kubota's Todd Stucke told DTN/Progressive Farmer at the Texas gathering. "We have to look at capacity, (and) we're working to localize (parts) supply." Stucke is senior vice president, marketing, product support and strategic projects for Kubota Tractor Corporation and senior vice president for sales and marketing for Kubota North America.
Kubota says it is producing as much machinery, implements and attachments as it was pre-COVID. But overall, customer demand has gone up sharply, and it concedes its equipment inventory is tight. Kubota believes localizing supply will help.
Stucke explained that localizing parts supply means Kubota is reaching out to a range of 400 miles from a given production facility to identify parts suppliers that will boost parts inventories while decreasing Kubota's dependence on long-haul trucking and containerized shipping.
Kubota, Stucke said, also is devoting a significant portion of the Japanese manufacturer's $1.2 billion investment in the U.S. this year to boost manufacturing capacity. For example, Kubota is building a new 650,000-square-foot, $140 million loader assembly plant in Gainesville, Georgia. There is an existing Kubota facility only 30 miles away in Jefferson, Georgia, that also produces loaders. But it cannot keep up with demand for loaders. Kubota will use that newly freed space in Jefferson to expand its attachment and implement production. That new plant in Gainesville is scheduled to open in 2024.
"While the consumer market may have checked-up, our ag market is strong," Stucke said. "We are building (new) production capacity."
At Kubota Connect, the manufacturer revealed a multi-step plan that is moving it toward electrically powered tractors and other machines.
Kubota is at the beginning of the process. Working with customers, it is developing a "drop-in" electric engine that works with, for example, the electric mockup of its LX 261 compact tractor it displayed in Texas. It's a first step, but Kubota said it is also a relatively quick way to introduce electrification to its customers. Over time, Kubota plans to introduce drive by wire, connectivity and finally, a purpose-built electrified machine with full automation and that is Cloud connected. At some point -- Kubota did not say when -- the manufacturer looks to produce an autonomous machine. Kubota displayed a concept autonomous machine accompanied by a video showing it working in field settings and suggesting it could feature solar charging technology.
At Kubota Connect, the manufacturer gave dealers a preview of products coming in 2023. Here are some:
-- M7 Generation 4 Series (M7-134, M7-154, M7-174). The M7s are Kubota's largest tractors, targeting livestock and forage producers. Features to note: a mechanical front loader control joystick. It is equipped with shuttle shift and range gear shift buttons, eliminating the need to frequently shift between the joystick, steering wheel and shift lever. Xpress Restart allows the operator to control the main clutch by pressing the brake pedal. Active Stop keeps the tractor stopped without the need to continuously press the brake pedal.
-- Sidekick (Stone Gray Edition). The 850 cc Sidekick Stone Gray Edition comes with a WARN AXON 4,500-pound winch, LED lights and light bar, and electric bed dump. Bed capacity in the Sidekick is 1,000 pounds. Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds. Top speed is 45 mph.
-- LX4020, LX3520. The new LX20 series features 35- to 40-horsepower models, with factory-installed ROPS or cab.
-- L02 Series Tractors. L02 features two new horsepower options -- 25 horsepower and 48 horsepower -- in addition to current models with 33 horsepower and 39 horsepower engines.
-- Generation 2 M5 Narrow Tractor. Two models added to the M5 lines, the M5N-112 and M5N-092. The units have a new hood design and updated operator station.
-- CT8300 Flex Harrow (Great Plains). The CT8300 Heavy-Duty Flex Harrow is designed for leveling and seedbed preparation, product incorporation and weed control. Available in widths ranging from 15 inches to 60 inches.
For more information: www.kubotausa.com
Dan Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @DMillerPF
(c) Copyright 2022 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.