The introduction of Versatile’s Nemesis tractor and the simultaneous announcement—but not official introduction—of the Kubota M8 tractor line at the same time caused some logistical problems for the two brands when it came to publicity. At the moment the Nemesis models rolled into the spotlight, Kubota confirmed it had an OEM agreement with Versatile to build them a bigger tractor. But they were staying mum on the details, saying an official launch would be held later in the year at an unspecified date. That led to a lot of speculation and spy pictures popping up on the Internet.
Kubota’s launch happened last week in Grapevine, Texas.
Between last March and now, everyone knew Versatile would be building the M8s, so the obvious assumption was that both tractor lines would be built on the same platform, with some likely small differences unique to each brand. And with that awkward interim period between Versatile’s launch and Kubota’s finally over, we can now see that has proven to be the case.
Kubota will offer two M8 models, the 190 horsepower M8-191 and 210 horsepower M8-211. As expected, power will come from 6.7 Cummins diesels mated to ZF transmissions. Both 40 and 50 km/h 30 X 15 power shifts models are available, with Kubota offering its KVT 50 km/h CVT transmission as an option.
In the hydraulics department, both tractors get closed-centre pumps available with a standard 31.7 g.p.m. (120 l/min) flow rate or an optional 42.2 g.p.m. (160 l/min) Up to five rear remotes are available.
A standard fixed front axle with optional full locking differential can be upgraded to a suspended design to pair with a suspended cab to improve the ride for the operator and give traction a boost.
I was able to make it down to Texas for the launch and get into the field with these tractors to actually put them to work. The launch event itself had all the usual dry-ice smoke, fancy lighting and heart-pumping music as the tractors were revealed to a group of about 80 dealers and their guests. Interestingly the dealer group was split down the middle, with Canadians making up 50 percent of the bunch. A Kubota executive told me brand recognition in Canada is well beyond that in the U.S. So the company has more ground to make up in promoting their ag equipment lines to Americans than Canadians.
With the M8, Kubota now has a tractor that moves well beyond the hay and forage market and gets up into the mid-range tractor category, with enough muscle to handle the tillage needs of many producers. Seeing an orange tractor pulling a planter and vertical tillage tool was arguably the most unfamiliar sight of my couple of days in Texas. But it’s one farmers will eventually get used to seeing. There were more than a few hints—although nothing specifically stated by brand executives—there will be more to come from Kubota as it continues toward its long held goal of becoming a full-line ag equipment brand. “Future growth” was a phrase I heard spoken several times.
With haying equipment (from its acquisition of Kverneland), tillage, planting and seeding equipment (from its purchase of Great Plains) now part of the Kubota family and tractors large enough to handle them, the company is well on its way to doing what it promised to do: become a major player in the ag market.