A number of major tractor suppliers are in the process of bolstering their ranges with grass harvesting and tillage equipment. Deutz-Fahr’s heart is with tractors and combine harvesters, and the firm has no plans to change this is the message. Speaking at a press conference at the opening of the new Deutz-Fahr tractor production plant at Lauingen, Germany, SDF Group CEO Lodovico Bussolati said the company will remain a tractor and combine specialist.

“We have no interest in implements,” he said. “You have to specialise to be able to do this. The same is true with grass harvesting equipment, and there are plenty of specialist companies out there already doing a good job. We want to give our dealers the freedom to select the right brands for themselves.” To underline this strategy the company recently ended cooperation with Kverneland to take this firm’s equipment and finish it in Deutz-Fahr green for certain markets, but continues to offer certain Kuhn balers in the Deutz-Fahr name and colours.

Instead, Mr Bussolati said there is plenty of scope for internal growth with tractors and combines, and the company is growing its business in new markets in other areas of the world. Last year was a challenging one for the farm machinery sector, but the SDF Group managed to hold its own – turnover fell 1.7% from €1.39 billion in 2015 to €1.36 billion. European (EU28) revenues dropped from €936 million in 2015 to €871 million, but the region remains the company’s most important market, representing 64% of total turnover. Accounting for 63% of 2016 revenues, Deutz-Fahr is the Group’s most important brand. Same’s share fell from 18 to 16%, while Lamborghini managed to hold its own at 7%.

It is seven years since the SDF Group announced its 2010 to 2020 strategy to improve the product offering and increase annual turnover to €1.6 billion by 2020. Encouraged by the better than expected results in two new markets of China and Turkey, Mr Bussolati said the company is now more ambitious than it was in 2010. “If European markets had not fallen during the past three years then we would already have reached a turnover of €1.6 billion,” he added. “We do not know how the markets will develop during the next three years, but even if they remain at the same level then our turnover will be higher than €1.6 billion by 2020.

The SDF Group top man is encouraged by the results in two important new markets are China and Turkey. Back in 2010, the company did no business in both countries. Today, it has a growing presence in both. Turkey contributed €118 million to SDF’s 2016 turnover and China €160 million. In fact, the Group’s Chinese tractor plant at Suihua, which makes 200hp+ tractors, saw its share of SDF Group turnover climb from 9% in 2015 to 11% last year. “China is an attractive market and offers plenty of opportunities for the future for our tractors and combines.”

SDF has invested heavily in R+D during recent years to plug gaps in the product portfolio, and total investments were €92.5 million last year. The most significant being €34 million for the completion of the new Lauingen plant and €23 million for new products. This year’s spend on new product development is down slightly to €65 million (€70 million in 2015), but the company continues to develop and improve its tractor and combine portfolio.

Deutz-Fahr has no plans to develop a rotary combine harvester, but reveals it is working on a new conventional straw walker machine that has a higher capacity than the current C9000 Series flagship. On the tractor front, production of the eagerly-awaited 11 Series (350-440hp) starts next year, and there is a faint hint of a more powerful 9 Series model. Lower down the power scale look out for a new range of 4cyl 6 Series tractors, which we understand have already been previewed by dealers. The company is also looking at electrics, but the message is not to expect to see anything in the short term.

Finally, Mr Bussolati also had a clear message when questioned about dealers. “Large or small, the size of a dealer is not important to us. Our strategy is to have good dealers not bad ones.”