The big names in the tractor and farm machinery world were in upbeat mood at Agritechnica where key messages were that business is returning to customers and 2017 has been better than expected.

This positive scenario is certainly true at Claas and at a show press conference, speaker of the group executive board Hermann Lohbeck confirmed that France is under pressure, but overall the markets in Central and Western Europe have stabilised. “There is growth in the Eastern Europe, and in Russia and Kazakhstan,” he said.

Looking across the Atlantic, Mr Lohbeck said the stable North American market has provided Claas with an acceptable level of business this year. However, he also spoke of the desire for the company to be more and more a global international player. “North America is an important strategic area for us,” he added. “We are strong with some products but can certainly do better with others, and China will also be an important country for us in the future.”

On the product front, Agritechnica provided a good indication of a few key areas the company plans to focus on in the future – loaders, increased levels of automation and rubber tracks.

“We had great successes with Kramer with the Scorpion telehandler but needed a new long-term strategy,” continued Mr Lohbeck. The deal with Liebherr for the new Scorpions could be described as a marriage made in heaven, because it allows two powerful German families, sharing the same language and culture to combine forces, without becoming competitors (Liebherr squarely targets the construction sector, while Claas is a pure agricultural player).

Why is Claas getting into wheeled loaders? “There is a market for them in the agricultural sector (particularly with biogas plants) and an opportunity for us. We expect to sell significant numbers of the Torion in the future.”

Claas won one of the two Agritechnica innovation award Gold Medals for its autonomous Cemos auto threshing system for straw-walker and hybrid combine harvesters. “This is the future,” said Mr Lohbeck. “All the driver has to do is set up the system, which then takes over automatically.”

The company won a silver medal for a similar Cemos system for tractors – an operator assistance system to optimise the tractor/implement set-up. It is not fully automatic like the combine, but a user-friendly approach to optimise the setting-up of tractors and implements, and is something we will be hearing a lot more about in the future.

Finally, it was no secret that Claas would show the Axion 900 Terra Trac at Agritechnica. What we didn’t know was that the company has also fitted a system to a Jaguar 960 SPFH. The company sees a big future for rubber tracks, and Mr Lohbeck confirms the plan is to extend the range in the future. It would seem a difficult engineering challenge to add the current format to the Xerion, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a four-track design eventually find its way to the company’s flagship tractor.