Standing in front of what everyone knew was a completely covered example of AGCO’s newest combine design, the IDEAL, Richard Kohnen, director of tactical marketing for AGCO, discussed the evolution of the combine design and the brand’s intent to create a combine platform capable of playing in a global market.
Given that the company had already shown the IDEAL to the public at Agritechnica in Germany last November, covering it completely with a large black tarp so no one could see it before the official ceremony seemed like a slightly excessive theatrical approach.
As Kohnen concluded his introduction, he said, “So with that, let’s welcome to North America our new Fendt IDEAL combine.”
In my mind I thought, “Wait. What? Fendt?”
And as the tarp came off, there it was, Fendt badging prominently displayed on a combine on these shores. So this event marked the first time AGCO has ever introduced a Fendt-brand combine in Canada or the U.S. That was the surprise worth hiding behind a massive tarp.
The marketing strategy
Unlike one of the two IDEAL combines on display in Germany wearing the Massey Ferguson name, MF and Challenger dealers here will not get to sell this new combine, unless they meet the standard required to also be a Fendt dealer. This was, then, not just a combine reveal, but a statement on AGCO’s overall marketing strategy in Canada and the U.S. Fendt is being further positioned as the company’s premium product line.
“The strategy around that was how it’s designed as a global platform and how each region will market it,” said Kohnen. “If you look at the history back to around 2000 when we launched the Fendt brand in North America, it was around catering to a different customer need. Over the years we’ve shown what the Fendt brand can bring to our customers in North America around ease of operation, uptime, return on investment and the brand value. The ideal is a brand new design meant to cater to the next generation of harvesting, what we are going to be looking at in the next 10, 15, 20 years. And that just fit perfectly for us here as a Fendt brand.”
“This is exciting for a lot of different reasons,” added Caleb Schleder, AGCO marketing manager for harvesting products in North America. “The key thing is, for North America this is a Fendt combine, better grain quality, uptime, simple operation.”
The IDEAL will be available in three models, Class 7, 8 and 9, and can be fitted with the brand’s 9255 DynaFlex Draper headers in 25, 30, 35 and foot widths, or with a 15-foot 4300 pickup header as well as a corn header. Behind the cab is a 485-bushel grain tank that can unload at six bushels per second.
That enhanced uptime Kohnen mentioned comes from IDEAL combines being included in the Fendt Gold Star Customer Care Plan. It includes an enhanced service and warranty plan with 24-hour uptime assurance.
Threshing comes from a 16-foot dual helix rotor system. “This is a step change in how to thresh and separate grain,” said Schleder. (the smallest Class 7 combine only gets a single rotor.)
Below the rotors is a concave shoe pan designed to provide maximum efficiency especially on side-hill operation and even out the load on the cleaning shoe.
“We’re able to direct that crop mat to the perfect area (in the shoe) it needs to be without an extra mechanical process,” he added. “So were utilizing all areas of the shoe to get that high grain quality and low loss level.”
Up front, operators get to sit in the large “Vision” cab, which Schelder says gets its name from the fact it offers maximum visibility and comfort. And the combine systems can provide the operator with visual images of what’s going on in the threshing system. That allows for optimizing settings even in changing conditions. And the combine’s automation feature allows it to help inexperienced operators chose those settings.
Power comes from a German-built MAN diesel engine (which is also used in Fendt’s 1000 Series tractors) and gets transferred throughout the combine using only 13 drive belts for efficiency and simplicity.
As Schleder puts it, “Simplicity of operation, Simplicity of power and simplicity of power transfer.”