Buhler to build bigger Kubota tractors in Winnipeg

Kubota’s current highest-horsepower line of tractors is the M7 line, manufactured in France. (Kubota.ca)

Kubota’s highest-horsepower tractors yet for the North American farm market are going to be made in Canada.

Winnipeg manufacturer Buhler Industries, the maker of Versatile tractors, on Thursday announced a “long-term” original equipment manufacturer (OEM) deal with Japan’s Kubota Corp. to “develop and produce a new tractor platform in the mid-range front-wheel assist segment.”

For Kubota, the OEM deal allows it to expand its tractor lineup to a horsepower range above its “currently largest” M7 170-hp line and “strengthen its large tractor business in the North American market.”

Development of the new tractor platform began almost five years ago, Kubota said, and the new higher-horsepower tractors are to be introduced in the U.S. and Canada starting from the second half of 2019.

Production of the new units will begin “immediately,” Buhler added.

The new line will incorporate Kubota’s “proprietary knowhow on ease of operation and functional design” to make new large tractors customized exclusively for the Japanese firm.

For Buhler, which will make the new tractors at its Clarence Avenue factory in Winnipeg, the deal will “increase overall production at the Versatile facility… which will reduce overhead and increase efficiency.”

The Clarence Avenue plant, which according to Buhler has built over 100,000 tractors in its lifetime, makes fixed-frame front-wheel assist tractors from 265 to 365 hp and articulated four-wheel drives from 380 to 610 hp.

Buhler, owned by Russian farm equipment maker Rostselmash since 2007, has operated the plant since 2000, when it bought the Versatile business from New Holland. The Versatile brand dates back to 1966, when the eponymous company began mass-producing articulated four-wheel-drive tractors.

“The Versatile brand has a global reputation in agriculture for building high-horsepower tractors that are reliable and well-built,” Buhler’s chief operating officer, Grant Adolph, said Thursday in a release.

“The result of this agreement is an increase in production at the factory in Winnipeg which will bring additional stability to the supply chain and employees.”

Kubota, whose Canadian and U.S. operations are headquartered at Markham, Ont. and Grapevine, Tex. respectively, today supplies over 1,100 dealerships in the U.S. and 150 in Canada.

The company’s compact and sub-compact tractors for the North American market are assembled in the U.S. at Gainesville and Jefferson, Georgia. Kubota’s current highest-horsepower tractor, the M7, is built at the company’s plant at Bierne in northern France, just south of Dunkirk.

“Today’s announcement will allow us to broaden our horizons as our engineers will work with Buhler’s employees, in order to develop and produce tractors specific to our local market’s needs and tailored for their applications,” Kubota Canada president Bob Hickey said in a separate release. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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