More than a few head of Prairie cattle look forward every winter to seeing one of Kubota’s the orange machines bringing them out feed bales each day. But with a top horsepower rating on the brand’s most powerful model at the start of 2014 that kept it in the utility segment, the range of duties these tractors could perform was limited.
Now, Kubota executives plan on having their equipment — not just tractors — make a much bigger impact in the ag machinery market. They’ve started growing the size of their tractors with the introduction in October of the three-model M7 Series.
Built in France, the new 130, 150 and 170 horsepower models will make it to Canadian shores by mid summer.
“We’ll start to see that tractor mid year, probably July or August we’ll start to get equipment on the ground in Canada,” says David Webster, general manager for marketing and sales in Canada. “Then we’ll be doing some local events to help dealers expose their customers to the machine.”
The M7 Series is a new design for Kubota tractors, both inside the cab and out. The company claims all the driveline components have been specifically engineered to work together for maximum fuel efficiency. And designers have paid attention to ergonomics to make the cab and controls much more comfortable for the operator.
The control layout inside the cab includes a new, multifunction joystick that controls speed, direction and three-point hitch operation. A new touch screen monitor provides data on a number of functions.
The M7 tractors were introduced a few weeks earlier in Europe than here, and they are more likely to appeal to farmers as tillage tractors there. In Canada and the U.S., brand marketers expect to target primarily livestock and hay producers, although it will appeal to some as a primary field tractor.
“We have much larger tractors here (in North America than in Europe),” says Todd Stucke, VP of ag and turf for Kubota in the U.S. “This tractor fits their market very well. There is more market opportunity. It fits us very well too, especially in that livestock, hay market and it also allows us to step into that row crop market.”
To further pique livestock producers’ interest, the brand is now offering some haying equipment, and there is more to come. Kubota recently acquired Norwegian manufacturer Kverneland, which has been producing haying and tillage equipment for decades. Some of those implements are already available through Kubota dealers.
“One of the biggest things we’ll be introducing is the silage baler,” says Webster. “We have a 4×5, 5×5 (round) baler that we offer now in a couple of different models. And we offer those in silage configurations as well. We don’t have a 5×6 baler yet, which is probably more applicable to customers in Western Canada, in the prairie provinces. But that’s something I expect to see in our product line in the coming years.”
Although executives won’t reveal the timeline for the introducing additional products, they emphasize that there will be more to come. And they think western farmers will like what they see, with future products tailored to meet the needs of larger producers.
“…As we look at getting into larger farming operations, we’ll definitely continue to see product-line expansion, evidenced by the M7 tractor that was introduced,” adds Webster. “And we’ll definitely see that product line continue to grow. The company isn’t done there.”