This week JCB revealed its new ag sector machinery offerings by holding a media event at its world headquarters near Rocester England. In the impressive style of machine introduction events I’ve seen from this brand before, a stage curtain in the company’s on-campus theatre lifted to reveal their newest product.
In this case, the machine hiding just behind that curtain was an all new 8000 Series Fastrac ag tractor that pushed the available horsepower for Fastracs north of 300.
The two new 8000 models are a complete redesign of the previous tractors in that series, which used a typical front-wheel assist design. The new 8000s aren’t fully equal-wheeled models like the smaller and updated 4000 Series Fastrac tractors that were introduced about a year and a half ago, but there isn’t much size difference between the rubber up front and at the rear.
When the 4000 Series were introduced at the brand’s Savannah, Georgia, plant in March of 2014, one of the senior brand executives and I discussed the configuration then-exsiting differences between the two model series. With the new 4000 Series models the focus of that product launch, he said: “I think you can see where we’re going (with tractor design)”.
The new 8000 Series is clear confirmation of that statement, with JCB seeing the equal-wheel (or nearly equal-wheeled) configuration and rear load-carrying ability of the Fastrac as its future in the ag tractor segment, rather than producing a me-too MFWD.
The 8000 Series use AGCO’s SISU diesel engine coupled to the Fendt CVT transmission. Full suspension systems and 70 km/hr road speed make these tractors a bit unique. And with uprated horsepower, they’re are now capable contenders for main-tractor status on prairie farms.
Couple the introduction of these machines with the launch of the new 1000 Series Fendt/Challenger tractors from AGCO along with the half-track Magnum and T8s from CNH last year and it seems we’re seeing tractor engineers thinking outside the box of standard MFWD and articulated four-wheel drive designs.
Add the robotic tractor previews we’ve seen this year to mix and it makes me think we in for some exciting new product developments in the coming years.
At the moment I’m sitting here in Heathrow airport in London waiting for my return flight and writing this to give you a heads up on the JCB introduction. The December issue of Grainews will take a fairly detailed look at what’s new in the tractor segment this year. There’s a lot to talk about.
In case you’re wondering, I did have some time to have a quick “look round” the city, as they say here. And if the writing in this post seems a little less than perfect, you’ll have to excuse it. I’ve been operating on less than a full night’s sleep for the last few days, trying to gather up all the details of the JCB launch, get all the video photography done as well as take in a little of this incredible city!