I have never seen a tractor manufacturer discuss zero to 60 acceleration times in its promotional material. That was, however, until I took an in-depth look at what the Fendt brand had to say about its tractors. And there it was. “Zero to 60 kilometres per hour in 11 seconds,” the company proudly declared! Unique? Definitely. But then, unique seems to be exactly how AGCO, Fendt’s parent company, wants Canadian farmers to view Fendt tractors.
Tractors in North America
At first glance, the German-built line of high-spec’d Fendts seems to have a lot in common with German car brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW: Unashamedly offering a premium product that clearly won’t appeal to the majority of consumers. But that’s where any similarity ends. Unlike those cars, Fendt executives believe the features their pale green tractors offer will more than pay for themselves under the right conditions.
So far, the company is offering three model lines of tractors in North America, the MFWD, rigid-frame 700, 800 and 900 Series, which span the range from 130 to 360 engine horsepower. All of which come standard with the company’s CVT transmission called the Vario. The company’s position is that shifting gears is a “burden” on drivers and the Vario step-less transmission design eliminates that.
Today, the Vario is your only choice for transmissions on a Fendt. AGCO has also made the same basic transmission an option on its Massey Ferguson and Challenger tractor brands.
The high-speed capability of Vario transmissions is coupled with standard front-axle, cab and seat suspensions to smoothen out the ride, even at road speeds. Unlike almost all of AGCO’s other tractors, the Fendts will continue to use something other than the company’s own AGCO Power engines. These tractors use Deutz diesels, which are said to be engineered specifically to work with the Vario transmissions.
The Fendt Variotronic integrated tractor management system provides one seamless system for auto guidance, implement control, data capture (with Bluetooth connectivity), camera displays and a headland management system. The built-in GPS guidance system is also compatible with the Russian Glonass and the planned European Galileo system. And it works with a variety of correction signals, including RTK. Being a European born-and-bred brand, the Fendt Variotronic system is also highly compatible with ISOBUS implement control systems.
500 Series tractors
When Fendt invited members of the North American media to the opening ceremonies at its upgraded Marktoberdof Germany factory in late September, it also gave us a preview of the all-new 500 Series tractors that it will eventually make available in Canada and the U.S.
“They’ll make a nice complement to the larger 700, 800 and 900 Series tractors,” says Reid Hamre, Fendt’s North American brand manager.
The four-model, 125 to 165 horsepower 500 Series tractors offer a short-wheelbase design on a compact chassis, making them ideal for front-end loader work. And the company also introduced a matching “Profi” loader. It, too, is loaded with high-end features, like hydraulic lift-height pre-set controls that allow the operator to bring the bucket up to a pre-set position with the push of a button. And the loader has a built-in load sensing feature, giving the operator a readout of the amount of weight in the bucket. This could be a handy feature for livestock producers who blend feed mixtures on the farm.
The 500 Series tractors will also use the same Variotronic tractor management systems their bigger brothers use. Creating a consistent control layout throughout the different ranges.
But Hamre emphasizes it will take a while before 500 Series tractors hit Canadian shores, despite the fact European versions will begin production in November. “It will be at least several months,” he says. The reason is that standardized specifications for ag equipment in Europe are different than those in North America. “Even down to the direction of rotation of the front PTO shaft,” Hamre adds.
For another look at the new 500 Series tractors, watch the vido at www.grainews.ca/videos. †