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Kubota Adds Higher Horsepower Tractors With Buhler Partnership
Kubota will expand its tractor offering to include larger tractors. The company announced a customized OEM agreement with Buhler Industries Inc. this week. Although few details of the agreement are public, it is clear the new series of tractors will be produced by Buhler for Kubota in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. The new machines will be made exclusively for the North American market.
Martin Carrier, product marketing director of ag equipment, declined to disclose the number of models or size specifications of the new tractor series saying, “We don’t want to steal the thunder from our next dealer meeting and product launch.” Although a date for that event has not been announced yet for 2019, Carrier said it will take place in the second half of the year and traditionally has been held in the fall.
In the meantime, “We’re still tying up all the little details and making sure we have the right configuration to address that market,” Carrier says.
While remaining vague about the coming products, Carrier explains, “Obviously, it is above and beyond what we currently have.” Kubota unveiled the second-generation M7 tractor with 170 hp. at the National Farm Machinery Show in early 2019. “There won’t be any overlap with the M7 Gen 2, so it is slightly bigger than that,” adds Carrier.
The company is focused on its target customer with the new series. “Our goal is to serve the beef farmer and what they do with that size of tractor,” Naturally, some of those farmers have row crops, so “there is going to be some row-crop application,” Carrier explains.
However, “We’re not after the 10,000-acre farm focusing on corn and beans. But if our dairy farmer or beef farmer that we’re dealing with has a few hundred acres of corn and soybeans, we want to make sure that the product we offer can serve that purpose as well as the utility portion of their farming,” Carrier adds.
Kubota’s Future in Agriculture
Kubota is serious about the agriculture market. “It’s not like a little sideline, ‘Here’s a tractor, here’s a mower, let’s take what’s available.’ No, we want to be a significant player,” Carrier explains.
The two agriculture brands Kubota recently acquired still do business as independent companies with independent distribution. That “is not something we’re planning on changing short-term,” Carrier adds.
When asked if Kubota will eventually be acquiring Buhler, Carrier responded, “No. That’s not part of the agreement. We’re not looking down that option at all, not even partially.”
He acknowledged rumors, saying “Yes, we’ve acquired Kverneland and then Great Plains. Some people thought we’re basically buying whoever is available around. No, that’s not the plan. It’s a long-term partnership that is valuable for both companies.”
As Kubota continues to invest in the agriculture industry, Carrier says, “We want to be a global major brand.”
What does that mean? “It doesn’t mean we want to be the biggest one at everything,” Carrier explains. “We want to be a recognized, reliable, significant partner in all the industries we enter.
“We’re not going to try to sell everything from mower to combine and everything, we’re going to focus on the livestock business market in North America,” he adds. “We want to be good, not necessarily big. And if that makes us big, good.”
Q & A: Todd Stucke, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Product Support & Strategic Projects
Q: What excites you most about the value these larger tractors will bring to farms in North America?
A: We are focused on establishing ourselves as a leader in the livestock and utility segment of the ag market. We believe that with this product addition, along with our current offering, we are well-positioned to achieve this and look forward to seeing what the new products can do on farms across North America.
Q: How will Kubota differentiate itself from competitors already offering tractors in these large sizes?
A: Our strategy is to establish our presence in this segment before our competitors strengthen their position. Then as the segment rebounds, we will be positioned to grow our share of the market.
Q: How do you look for your relationship with Buhler to grow or change moving forward?
A: Buhler has proven their large-scale tractor development and manufacturing capabilities with an emphasis on the North American market. As strategic partners, Kubota’s goal to expand into higher horsepower tractor segments is closely aligned to Buhler’s development and manufacturing strategy, and we look forward to continuing this partnership moving forward.
Q: Is Kubota pursuing customized OEM agreements in any other markets?
A: This customized OEM is limited to this segment tractors, no other products or markets are planned at this time.