Kubota Corp. has announced a partnership with Buhler Industries Inc. to build a new, larger line of Kubota tractors in a horsepower range exceeding that of its M7s. Those units offer engine options up to 170 hp.
Kubota believes a higher-horsepower tractor line will accelerate its penetration of the North American tractor market (U.S. and Canada). “Buhler has a proven track record for designing, manufacturing and distributing large tractors in North America,” Kubota says. It plans to roll out its new tractor in the second half of this year with it becoming widely available in early 2020.
Kubota is not releasing details about the tractor with the exception that it will be Kubota orange.
“We’re announcing to our family that we’re pregnant, but we’re not telling you the gender yet,” says Martin Carrier, product marketing director, Ag Equipment, Kubota Tractor Corp. “We want industry to know we are moving forward with a larger tractor.”
ALL NEW, HIGH HORSEPOWER
Carrier describes the tractor that will be built with Buhler as a “customized OEM (original equipment manufacturer)” collaboration.
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“We mean that we work together on this project. But, this is not an off-the-self product [Buhler] may offer and [Kubota] is just painting it orange. It is built to our specs,” Carrier explains. “It is not a generic component tractor, just pieces bolted together. This product will look and feel like a Kubota, only bigger.”
Bigger than Kubota’s M7, he adds. “It’s important this tractor will be integrated smoothly into the Kubota lineup.”
Carrier says Kubota does not take lightly its move into a bigger tractor segment. “We mean business,
and we will be a reliable business partner in this horsepower segment.”
BUILT ON A STRATEGY
Kubota sees this move in the tractor segment as a continuation of a strategy begun more than a decade ago, when Kubota moved to become a significant player in the commercial ag market. It’s especially notable in the livestock sector, where tractors often fall within the upper end of the utility and the lower end of the row-crop markets. Its progressions in the commercial ag market have been constant.
Kubota purchased Salina, Kansas-based Great Plains Manufacturing Inc. in 2016 for $430 million. That deal expanded on a 2007 North American alliance Kubota had with Great Plains’ turf and landscape implement division Land Pride. The purchase was Kubota’s largest move to date into the North American farm-equipment market. It followed Kubota’s 2012 acquisition of European ag manufacturer Kverneland ASA.
FOR LIVESTOCK AND CROPS
With this new tractor announcement, Kubota is targeting potential buyers who are feeding livestock, baling, mowing and raking, and those who also have a row-crop component. “You are planting some corn, but you’re not planting 10,000 acres of corn. You may be running an 8-, 12- or 16-row planter, but not a 16- to 48-row corn planter,” Carrier says. “We are providing them with an option that gives them what they need but not necessarily all the bells and whistles that raises the price tag without bringing any value to them.”
The new tractor represents another deliberate step forward for Kubota. “We want to be a major global brand. When we enter a market, we want to be recognized as a valuable, significant player in that market,” Carrier says. “We want to make sure that livestock farmer can find products (tractors and implements) in the Kubota portfolio to do the work on his farm.”
Kubota first entered the U.S. tractor market in 1969 with its subcompact, 21-hp L200. Forty-five years later, Kubota’s newest venture produced its biggest-ever flagship field tractor, the M7 Series sporting a power plant up to 170 hp. Its M7 Gen 2 tractor was introduced just this year, with three models ranging from 100 to 140 PTO hp.
Buhler is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It builds tractors, front-end loaders, augers and compact implements, among other machinery. Buhler brands include Farm King, Allied, Inland and Versatile. The manufacturer reported revenue of $288 million in 2018, down $24 million from the year before. The company blames weak commodity markets.
Kubota Tractor Corp., of Grapevine, Texas, currently manufactures a line of tractors up to 170 hp--and soon beyond--with performance-matched implements, compact and utility-class construction equipment, consumer lawn and garden equipment, hay tools and spreaders, commercial turf products and utility vehicles. Kubota Corp. reported revenue of about $16.5 billion in 2018.
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