Chinese tractor makers have had a stab at bringing a selection of relatively low-spec and low-horsepower tractors to Europe, but so far their attempts have not done much to rattle the cages of the well-established order. However, there is plenty of proof at this week’s Agritechnica that Chinese manufacturers are raising the stakes, investing many tens of millions of Euro in new high-horsepower tractor ranges and machines for the European market. In fact, the big tractor news at the Hanover Fairgrounds this week does not come from the major tractor suppliers, but from a couple of lesser known companies (at least for Europeans) from China – namely Zoomlion and Foton Lovol. Dealing today with Zoomlion, vice president and general manager (overseas division) Yongfu Yuan of Zoomlion Heavy Machinery, provided Profi International with a few pointers of some of the company’s plans for the future. Active in five different areas (agricultural and construction machinery, heavy trucks, environmental and financial services), the Chinese manufacturer’s construction division makes just about everything including concrete mixers, forklifts, earthmoving machines, fire-fighting equipment and cranes, while the agricultural division produces a complete range of machines ranging from tomato, rice and sugar cane harvesters to mowers, tedders, rakes and balers. Established in 1992, with 2014 annual sales of nearly US$13 billion (includes all subsidiaries) the company reckons to be the largest equipment company in China, and the sixth largest in the world. The company has set its sights on making Zoomlion Heavy Machinery into a world-renowned brand of agricultural machinery in around 10 years. The development of a complete range of tractors and agricultural machines for the European market is a major spear point – the first results of which are on display at Agritechnica. The foundations for this global plan were laid in October 2014 when Zoomlion bought Chinese tractor maker Chery, which form the basis of Zoomlion’s tractors up to 50hp. At Agritechnica, Zoomlion is showcasing a new range of tractors that not only takes the company much further up the power scale, but also provides them with tractors for the European market. The message from Mr Yuan, who previously headed Chery’s European ag business, is a clear one. “We are coming to Europe and have the strength and financial means to enter the high-horsepower end of the tractor market,” he says. After a quick look around the company’s Agritechnica stand it is difficult to disagree with him. It is filled with a number of new tractor ranges, the most powerful of which – the 210hp ZL2104 – is described as the most sophisticated Chinese-made tractor on the market. Brimming with technology, main features include a powershift transmission, suspended cab and seat, and suspended front axle and PTO option. The Stage IIIB tractor has already completed 30,000 hours of field tests in China. The 100hp ZN 1004 is also new. Fitted with a ZF powershift, like the ZL 2104 this will be offered with Deutz or Perkins Stage IV engines in Europe. Nearly all of the 60,000 tractors the company claims to make each year remain in Asia. However, things are changing fast and by the end of this year the company will have exported 5,000 units to overseas markets. The majority of these are destined for Russia, Poland, and other markets in Eastern and Central Europe, but the company is currently appointing dealers in countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Poland, Italy, France and the UK. We asked Mr Yuan why European farmers should consider Zoomlion as an option when there are already so many tractor brands available? “This is a question I am constantly thinking about,” he says. “The main reason is the price, which will be around 15% cheaper than a comparable European-built tractor. Second, we are a very wealthy company and will be providing farmers with a wide range of financial options. Third, we are building a huge spare parts division in Italy and we will guarantee parts and service.” The initial target is to sell 1,000 tractors in Europe, all of which will all be made in China. However, he suggests this is the maximum number they would want to ship from China to Europe. “We are planning to grow the numbers and will at some point need to build our tractors in Europe.” The current tractor model offering peaks at 210hp, but the company is targeting the arable sector and to do this Mr Yuan is well-aware of the need for a CVT and more powerful tractors in the future. Again, his message is a clear one.