In a multi-faceted joint venture, Japan’s leading tractor manufacturer, Kubota, will jointly develop and manufacture utility tractors with Escorts of India. The two companies will both sell the range in India, while Kubota will export to selected export markets globally, including South Africa. 

At NAMPO 2019 – held between 14 and 17 May at Bothaville in the Free State – local farmers were glad to know that Smith Power will soon be adding to its range of Kubota excavators a new utility tractor brand to be jointly developed and manufactured by Kubota and Escorts of India.

Kubota Utility tractors with Escorts

Escorts Group is one of India’s largest agricultural, construction and railway equipment companies, producing 21-80 horsepower tractors, engines and gensets. Kubota will own 60% of the joint venture (JV), which is said to have an initial capacity of 50 000 units. The JV will enable both partners to optimise their current and future capabilities in the segment globally.

The JV will aim to take a leading position in the domestic Indian market, as well as in the export markets in the medium to long term. Masatoshi Kimata, president and representative director of Kubota Corp, describes Escorts Group’s farming equipment division as “a strong technology legacy and diversified portfolio” in agricultural tractors and equipment.

“We are excited to announce our partnership with Escorts Group. Escorts has a strong technology legacy and diversified portfolio in agriculture equipment solutions market, while Kubota boasts proven global technology prowess. Together we will cater for India and other growing global economies which require high-end technology and new age tractors for the growing demand for highly-mechanised farming,” says Kimata.

Nikil Nanda, chairman and MD of Escorts, says the company is evolving to become a global organisation through strategic technology and manufacturing collaborations. “Our global JV with Kubota is aimed at technology-led collaborative growth in our domestic and export markets. With our inherent strengths, distribution and engineering benchmarks, together we will access global opportunity markets and move towards global leadership in utility tractors,” says Nanda.

Escorts currently produces a range of conventional Powertrac value tractors for the Indian market and Farmtrac 21-80 horsepower 2WD and 4WD models that are sold in India and export markets. Escorts’ tractors, many of which have styling that reflects past licence agreements with Ford’s one time tractor operations, recently started selling in the United States market again after an absence of about 16 years. The group also has an operation in Poland, which produces cabbed tractors for the European market.

Although many of Escorts’ tractors are very simple, more advanced solutions are being developed, such as the all-electric compact tractor unveiled just over a year ago. A concept autonomous tractor was also introduced in September last year.

Products from the new JV will capitalise on Kubota platforms and technology. Kubota, through its expanded distribution network, will be responsible for exports to specific markets. In South Africa, Smith Power has been distributing Kubota tractors for many years, and the new range will ride on the existing Smith Power footprint and customer base to break into the market.

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