When North American Kubota dealers get together at the company convention later this month, they’ll be in for a treat. The brand will pull the wraps off a new line of higher-horsepower tractors called the M7 Series. Their introduction is designed to help dealers grab market share away from the major brands in the mid-horsepower range and make further inroads into the agriculture sector.
A few years ago, senior management at Kubota suggested the brand may one day become a full-line ag equipment manufacturer. So far that hasn’t happened, but there have been recent moves in that direction, most notably with Kubota’s acquisition of Norwegian short-line manufacturer Kverneland Group in 2012.
But with its existing tractor line limited mostly to the utility horsepower range, the brand couldn’t really claim to be a serious contender in the ag sector, so this move to add mid-range horsepower models is another major step.
“Furthering a commitment to large scale upland farming, Kubota finalized the acquisition of Kverneland ASA in 2012, an agricultural implement manufacturer headquartered in Europe, with special expertise in precision farming technologies,” explains the official announcement from the company. “The design and function of the new M7 Series tractor has benefited greatly from this newly acquired knowledge base and our technology developed in Japan.”
Although North American dealers haven’t yet been officially introduced to the new tractors, European dealers have. Across the pond, Kubota introduced three models in the M7 line, which offer 130, 150 and 170 horsepower. The official press release says exact features on these tractors will vary according to needs of farmers in the various marketing regions.
These mid-range models will be built at the company’s facility in France, and their design won’t be limited entirely to in-house engineering. In fact, the company’s press release refers to “co-engineering”. Along that line, the new tractors will offer a CVT transmission built by ZF. There will also be a 24-speed semi-powershift option—if the newly-released European models are any indication of what’s to come here.
Under the hood, however, they will get a four-cylinder Kubota diesel.
Inside the cab in the European machines, things look a lot different than on any of the brand’s previous releases, with what the company claims is a more ergonomic control arrangement. On that side of the Atlantic, these new tractors also get an unbelievably large 20-inch, touch-screen monitor based on the technology acquired with Kverneland. I’m not sure why you’d want a big screen TV in the cab, but it’s hard to criticize that without seeing what exactly if offers in the way of features.
The tractors will be available by April of 2015, according to the official press release; and the brand expects to be selling 3,000 units per year worldwide by 2017—an ambitious goal.
“As part of Kubota’s commitment to ‘food, water and the environment’ it was essential that Kubota expanded the current equipment line to satisfy the diverse and changing global needs of agriculture,” continues the company press release. “Therefore Kubota is committed to medium and long-term investments making large-scale upland farming a strategic priority around the world.”