Kubota Farm Machinery, KFM, officially opened its new tractor production facility in Bierne, France. Just 10 km from the port of Dunkirk, the new plant is ideally located to export tractors throughout the EU as well as to North America and Asia.
When the plant is up to full production capacity, it will produce 3,000 of its 130 to 170hp M7001 tractor models a year. Although based in an existing 37,000 sq/m factory first purchased in 2013, Kubota Farm Machinery has invested in excess of €40 million in the plant and will 165 local employees to assemble tractors. Of these, 24 were sent to Kubota in Japan for initial training, with Japanese Team Leaders also overseeing employees in France.
The aim is to ensure the new plant meets Kubota manufacturing standards and mirror those of existing Kubota plants in other parts of the world. “The new M7001 series are ‘Made by Kubota. In Europe’, that is key,” says Dave Roberts, Managing Director of Kubota UK. “Kubota chose Bienre as a production site carefully.
The new plant is well placed to receive components from suppliers in the EU and is close to the major port at Dunkirk to facilitate exports to markets in the Asia and North America. Of equal importance, we have access to a workforce with a tradition in manufacturing.”
All key work stations are currently overseen by a team of Kubota specialists from Japan, with the company essentially saying every step of production is checked and double checked. Kubota knows it has to get these new tractors right from the outset if it is to gain a foothold in the ‘larger’ 130hp plus sector.
It is anticipated that France will be the largest market for the M7001, with the EU in total expected to take around 1,500 M7001 tractors a year. Around 1,000 will be exported annually to North America and 500 to Asia. Sales in the UK will take time to build, Kubota needing to extend its reach into the agricultural sector by expanding its dealer network, but the company is certainly bullish about its future.