Kubota is on target to increase its share of the European tractor market (up to 180hp) by 1.0% this year to 10.5%.

Speaking at an international press conference at Agritechnica, Yasukazau Kamada, president of Kubota Holdings Europe, said that the company’s European tractor business is up 38% compared to 2022.

Mr Kamada added that Kubota’s share of the European tractor market could have been even higher. “We have been severely hit by deliveries in the last few years with a succession of challenges in our supply chain,” he said. “This has cost us a few % of market share.”

Despite these supply issues, Kubota claims to be the third largest player in the global ag industry, and certainly had a stand to match this at the German show. Packed not only with Kubota tractors and machines, but also Kverneland, Great Plains, Roc and Vicon, it was the first time that all Kubota Group companies were assembled together at the German show.

The European top man then provided a brief overview of the firm’s global business. The Kubota Group was close to generating a turnover of €20 billion for the first time last year (€19.84 billion). This year it will smash through it and the forecast is for a record €21.85 billion of which 14.4% will be realised in Europe. “The plan now is to further grow sales to €22.2 billion by 2025,” added Mr Kamada. “We think it will be higher.”

One possible fly in the ointment is the general downturn in the economy, which has suppressed demand for new tractors and machines in Europe in the second half of this year. The outlook for 2024, which incidentally is the brand’s 50th anniversary in Europe, is not much better, and the forecast is for a flat to a -5.0% dip in demand for tractors.

Europe is an important market for Kubota and 5,000 of its 55,000 global staff work in the region. With five European business units – construction, tractors, engines, implements and spare parts: construction machinery accounts for a third of turnover. Tractors and implements are each good for 22% with engines and spare parts accounting for the rest.

Autonomous tractor

Kubota earmarked around €470m for R&D this year. Some results of this investment were on the stand, including a batch of new hybrid and electric engines in development. The company confirms that it is working on electrification of its products and increased levels of autonomy, and in the medium to long term plans to offer unmanned Kubota machines in Europe.

The firm released its first autonomous tractor, the 60hp SL60A, as long ago as 2017 in Japan. Joined by the 100hp MR1000A Agri Robo KVT in 2020, this tractor was on show for the first time in Europe at Agritechnica.

Developed on the M5112 platform, shared components include the 3.8l Kubota four-pot motor, hydraulics, axles and cab. Obvious differences include the external sonars, scanners and optical recognition systems, and less obvious ones are the tractor’s new transmission, which is customised for autonomous operation.

The Agri Robo can work with or without a driver, and it is also possible to remotely operate two tractors at the same time with a mobile device. There are no details on when the new Agri Robo KVT, which weighs from 3.5-4.1t and lifts 3.3t at the rear, might be available to buy in Europe.

Incidentally, Kubota reckons to have sold 1,000 autonomous machines in its homeland. One hundred of these were tractors. The other 900 were split between autonomous rice planters and harvesters.

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