Kubota is making a splash in the marketplace as it plans to release more than 92 products in 2015. The company plans to pour resources into expanding all segments of its equipment product lines, specifically livestock and row crop sectors.
With a new customer in mind, Kubota officials say they are committing to expanding their livestock and row crop tractor line with the M7-Series. This is the first and largest move Kubota has made in the mid-range tractor sector.
"This launch will send a strong message to the market," says Masatoshi Kimata, President of Kubota Corporation. "We are not just a small tractor company anymore."
Over the past few years, Kubota has made strategic moves to help make this transition to the big ag market, including:
1) Acquisition of Kverneland ASA. In May 2012, Kubota acquired Kverneland ASA, as a subsidiary, tractor implement manufacturer in Norway. This acquisition provided the implements essential for livestock and row crop farming.
2) Establishment of manufacturing company in France. In December 2013, Kubota established a company for the manufacturing of livestock and row crop tractors in Bierne, France. The plant plants to begin operations in December 2014 and start mass production by April 2015.
The two initiatives put Kubota in a unique position to enter into a new market and customer base with the M7-Series. Todd Stucke, Vice President of Agriculture and Turf, shares in the video below the long-term strategy of the company, including a transition to manufacturing higher horsepower tractors.
The M7-Series has three models, including the M7-131, M7-151 and M7-171. 1, offering more than 170 horsepower. This is the largest horsepower offering in Kubota’s tractor line-up to date.
As you navigate through the new tractor, you’ll notice how each detail is engineered with the customer in mind. On the front end, under the orange painted hood, lives the Kubota V6108 engine. The Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) sprays hot exhaust from the engine with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which transforms the exhaust into harmless water vapor and nitrogen. The engine’s Common Rail System (CRS) electronically controls the timing and amount of high-pressure injected fuel in stages for optimal combustion. The combination of these two systems with a DPF muffler and an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system ensure the M7-Series is Tier-4 Final compliant. The engine also has a power boost option to deliver more power for short periods.
The front of the tractor also features a front 3-point hitch and optional front power take-off (PTO). This allows the M-Series great versatility and productivity being able to run two PTO implements at one time. An auto PTO on/off with a three-point hitch position, allows the auto PTO to automatically disengage the PTO when the linkage is raised and then re-engages when the linkage is lowered. With open-center hydraulics, the standard M7-series features a 21GPM gear type pump and mechanical aux control with three aux control valves with an optional fourth. The premium model features CCLS, a variable flow rate and a 29 GPM independent PFC pump with electronic aux control with four standard aux control values with an optional fifth.
The M7-Series is equipped with two transmission options. The Kubota Variable Transmission (K-VT) features a continuously variable transmission that offers an infinite number of forward and reserve speeds. Kubota’s original Powershift transmission features four forward and four reserve speeds. To get jobs done at slow working speeds, the series provides optional 16 forward and 16 reverse creep speeds and up to 31 mph traveling speed on both the K-VT and Powershift transmissions.
As you make your way up the steps, to the cab of the tractor, you’ll notice more space and maneuverability. The M7-Series cabin is available with mechanical, air or no suspension systems. While in-cab, the Headland Management System works with GPS and ISO-BUS compatible implements to provide customizable programs of fully automated operations. The all-in one management system displayed on a single large LCD touch screen has four main functions—tractor control, ISO-BUS connector-compatible implement control, GPS-compatible auto-guidance and camera monitor. This management system marks Kubota’s first step into the precision farming circuit.
“We are really just touching the surface of the technology,” says Steve Barcuch, Product Marketing Director, Ag. “This will evolve with time.”
Barcuch says one way the 14,000 lb., M7-Series tractors differentiate themselves in the market, is the LM2605 mechanical self-leveling front loader attachment feature. Equipped with a single-lever hydraulic quick coupler, the operator has the ability to attach and detach all four hoses. To help keep a smooth ride while lifting and dumping heavy loads, the Kubota “shockless” ride (KSR) helps minimize the ride. To learn more about the mechanical self-leveling front loader, watch the video below with Kent Brown, Agricultural Equipment and Business Development Manager, outlining product features.
The M7-series continues to get surveyed in a multi-step system with the dealer network and end- customers, providing high-tech feedback on the machines. This hand-in-hand relationship allows Kubota to build customer-driven products engineered toward efficiency and ease-of-use.
Kubota continues to strengthen its business in North American with active ventures into the livestock and row crop sector. With the future in mind, Kubota hopes the M7 series is a step in the right direction to meet their goal of $4 billion in revenue by 2017.
"North American is the most important market for Kubota," Kimata says. "We will continue to invest and strengthen business in North America."
Although expanding and moving forward at a fast pace, Barcuch says the core products that Kubota was built on, are still the center of the company.
“You don’t want to forget what brought you to the dance,” Barcuch says. “We consider the M7-Series release a controlled launch; we can’t be everything to everybody.”
Although Kubota stays strong to its roots, Stucke says Kubota has a strong desire to move toward higher horsepower. For now, their focus is in the M7-Series launch and ensuring a smooth transition to dealers and end customers.
“Credibility in the market is huge, we need to ensure we get the job done right with the M7-Series,” he says.
The M7-Series production will begin in April 2015. The company expects to see the tractors arriving to dealers in late summer.