There have been several bits of
interesting news trickling out of Europe in the last few weeks—and
I’m not talking about the mayhem that struck Norway. I’m
referring to recent developments in the farm machinery world.
While both John Deere and AGCO are set
to unveil new products to the media at events in the U.S. in August,
both companies have already shown some new equipment to the media at
Deere held its “Setting Directions”
event in Portugal in early July and introduced the new 6R and 7R
tractor lines. Of course it was no surprise to see the 7R line that
will replace the 7030 Series, but the pending introduction of the new
6Rs hadn’t been made public prior to the event.
On this side of the ocean, Deere spent
much of the spring and summer using social media to tease farmers
with short video clips of the new 7Rs. And they’ve done exactly the
same thing with the pending new line of combines, but it’s no secret
the brand is still keeping some of its cards close to its chest. It’s
widely expected Deere will introduce much more at their event in
Indianapolis, Indiana, next month.
AGCO has been showing new tractors in
Europe, too. It introduced its new, redesigned 700 Series Fendt line.
Atlanta, Georgia. Some of the the creature comforts from the larger
900s were incorporated into the new 800 Series cab. And the European
media is reporting a few of those have filtered down to the
much-improved cabs on the 700s.
What AGCO will introduce at its
scheduled event in Kansas City in two weeks is hard to say, but I
expect the new 700s will be there. And like Deere’s event, there’ll
likely be a lot more to see.
Lastly, and perhaps most surprising, is
the news that Chinese tractor builder YTO has purchased the assembly
plant in France that had been building the transaxle assembly used in
the McCormick C Series tractors. YTO has announced it has also
acquired all the rights to keep building those components for its own
new tractor line, which it announced would soon be rolling out of the
That transaxle can trace its lineage
all the way back to the Worldwide Series of IH tractors (the 454 and
574) that first appeared in 1970. The assemblies were first built at
the company’s Doncaster plant in the U.K. for years, until Italian
company ARGO bought the old McCormick factory that was by then
building Case IH-badged tractors. In 2008 it eventually moved
production to the plant in France YTO bought from them.
Lately, the big three equipment
manufacturers have been targeting China as one of the next big growth
markets for their equipment. At the same time, the YTO purchase means at least one
Chinese company has snuck in the back door to target Europe, one
of the big three’s own home markets, with what will likely be a
much-improved product line of its own.
Details are still a bit sketchy on
YTO’s official plans, and there’s no word yet on whether or not the
firm would bring any C Series-based tractors to the marketplace here.
But if they did that would mean while western companies are building
plants in China to produce and sell their machines there, a Chinese
company would be building a tractor in France based on a British
driveline and exporting it to Canada.
It’s a crazy, mixed-up world, isn’t it?