Unlike the policies at some other major brands, New Holland dealers have been allowed to retail the company’s line of light construction equipment right alongside ag machines for a while now. Marketing of both the company’s ag and construction lines are now integrated in North America.
That integration means construction products like NH’s line of skid steers are available from many rural dealers — a strategy former North American NH vice president Abe Hughes said a year or two ago he believed would boost sales of things like backhoes and skid steers to rural governments and farmers, giving the brand a chance to gain some market share for its light construction equipment.
The idea seems to have worked.
“Actually, last year for us about 59 percent of our (skid steers) went into agriculture,” said Todd DeBock, segment leader for pro work tools at New Holland, during a media event at the company’s North American head office in July. “The same guys that are buying our Roll-Belt round balers are buying our skid steer loaders.”
When faced with the need to update its lower-horsepower equipment to meet Tier 4 Final engine emissions regulations, the company used the opportunity to add another model to its L Series line. This summer it introduced the L228, a 74 horsepower machine with 2,800 pounds (1,272 kilograms) of lift capacity.
“This is a new machine for us,” said Paul Wade, construction equipment marketing manger. “Basically we took our 2,500 pound lift machine when we went to Tier 4 Final, we added a little bit of weight to it, a little bit bigger cylinders and went up to a 2,800 pound machine.”
That brings the number of skid steers in the L Series line to seven. So, NH now offers models that span the range from 49 horsepower with 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms) of lift to 90 horsepower with 3,000 pounds (1,363 kilograms) of lift.
The company claims these models offer “best-in-class forward dump height and reach”, according to a recent press release.
“That’s what we’re known for, our Super Boom vertical lift configuration,” added Wade. “That will give you the highest and furthest lift, so it’s easy to dump right into the middle (of a truck).”
But to provide enough stability for extra reach calls for spreading out the axles a little.
“Another thing we’re noted for is stability,” added Wade. “We have the longest wheelbase in the industry. The front to rear weight ratio is 65-35.”
In the cab
The industry-wide efforts to make new cabs on equipment increasingly comfortable hasn’t bypassed skid steers. NH uses a wide design for L Series cabs along with a wide front door.
“We also offer one of the widest cabs in the industry and very wide entry into the cab,” explained Wade. “The cab is standard from our smallest machines all the way up to the top. It’s important to be able to walk into the cab safely. It’s a fully pressurized cab so you can take a phone call in there, and it’s not going to get dirty in there.”
And buyers get a choice of three different control configurations. First, there’s the stand forward-back levers and foot pedals to control the boom and bucket. Alternatively, loader controls can be included on the hand levers with side-to-side movements. Or you can opt for a two-joystick configuration, with the forward-back control on one and lift and dump controls on the other.
Wade claims making daily maintenance or even major repairs easier was one of the considerations built into the L Series design.
“When we go to daily maintenance, everything is done from ground level,” he said. “If you do have a major thing happen, it’s very easy to flip the cab. Undo two bolts. It can be done in about two minutes.”
If you buy an L Series this year and anything major does go wrong with it within the next three years, you’ll be covered.
“One of the things we’re doing to celebrate the introduction of our Tier 4 B models, through the end of the year, is we’re offering what we call our Super Guard warranty, three year, 3,000 hour, full warranty on skid steer loaders and CTLs (compact track loaders),” said DeBock.