Rumors became fact in late July as Kubota unveiled two models of its M8 to inch into the "high-horsepower" tractor market. The models specifically target growers in the hay and material-handling business, as well as smaller row-crop operators who can use a large utility tractor for tillage and planting.
The long-awaited M8 is the product of a five-year collaborative agreement between Kubota and Canadian manufacturer Buhler Industries, the maker of Versatile tractors.
The M8 is built in Winnipeg, Manitoba, alongside one of Buhler's Versatile lines and represents a rare collaborative relationship of an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cooperating with another manufacturer to build a high-profile ag tractor capable of limited row-crop use in North American and European fields.
"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," says Haruyuki (Harry) Yoshida, president and CEO of Kubota Tractor Corp. and Kubota North America Corp. "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 market 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 explains.
TWO HIGH-HP MODELS
The M8, expected to be in dealers' hands in January, comes in two models: the M8-191, rated at 190 hp at the flywheel and 162 hp at the PTO, and the M8-211, rated at 210 engine hp and 178 hp at the PTO. Both machines are powered by a turbocharged Cummins B6.7-liter 6-cylinder Tier 4 Final diesel engine that features a non-EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) emission system that combines Selective Catalyst Reduction, a Diesel Particulate Filter and Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) into one unit mounted outside the engine bay on the exhaust stack. The system sports an automatic regeneration system for the DOC, allowing periodic maintenance of the emission system to take place during field operations.
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The M8 stands out as Kubota's only tractor not to be powered by a Kubota-designed-and-built power plant. Company officials say the arrangement with Cummins fits their needs and provides growers with a high-quality, proven engine design that will be serviced by Kubota, as are all their other products.
When asked if Kubota had a 6-cylinder engine of its own on the drawing board, officials remained tight-lipped.
Regardless, the M8 is designed for hard work and long hours. The single-stack fuel cell includes a 99-gallon diesel tank and a companion 9-gallon DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) tank.
CAB WITH A VIEW
The M8 shares much engineering with its smaller, 170-hp, 4-cylinder M7 sibling released in 2015. The cab is particularly reminiscent of the M7 control layout, but the M8's cab is billed as an "office with a view" and features a larger, 148-cubic-foot four-pillar enclosure. In addition to more room, the M8 cab offers the operator panoramic views down both sides and to the front and back of the machine. For "high work" in material handling, the front of the M8 cab roof also includes a wide clear panel for upward visibility.
The control layout keeps the M8's single multifunctional intuitive joystick, and the cab is well-appointed with 12-volt outlets for various displays and tablets, along with USB receptacles, a standard air-suspension seat and 7-inch K-Monitor. Options include a semiactive seat suspension and a 12-inch K-Monitor. In addition, the M8 features a standard modulated PTO engagement control with three settings to match starting torque to chores at hand.
Growers can choose a 30 x 15 fully electronic-controlled Semi-Powershift transmission with speeds of up to 24.8 mph and six powershift gears in five ranges, or Kubota's Variable Transmission with an infinite number of forward and reverse speeds. Transport speeds climb to 31 mph with an optional suspended front axle.
For material-handling chores, the M8 comes standard with a left-hand handle and a right-hand multifunction handle control for smooth backward and forward shuttle work. Also, a speed-matching feature in the 30 x 15 gearbox allows the operator to bring the machine up to operating speeds in an efficient manner as the transmission monitors throttle position and automatically selects the closest gear and range to match the load.
The closed-center, load-sensing hydraulic power on the new machines is rated at 31.7 gallons per minute (gpm) for the standard implement pump flow, with an optional 42.2 gpm system available. The three-point lift system for Category III/IIIN implements is rated at 12,478 pounds at 24 inches behind the lift points, with an optional lift capacity of 15,543 pounds available.
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 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. Also, the new machines can be configured to work with any brand auto-guidance system.
The M8 tips the scales at 19,510 pounds. Kubota had not issued an MSRP as of press time. More information is available at www.kubotausa.com/products/tractors/agriculture/m8-series.
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