Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of reports from a recent roundtable discussion with AGCO executives about the company and where agriculture is headed.
AGCO’s decision to move tractor production from France to Jackson, MN, shows the company’s commitment to North American farmers, reported Jason Marx, vice president of marketing. “As more manufacturing moves overseas, AGCO is making a loud statement that we are serious about the North American market.”
Production of high-horsepower, wheeled tractors will join current production of articulated and track tractors at the Jackson facility. The first of these high-horsepower tractors is expected to come off the line in the fourth quarter of this year.
The advantage of bringing tractor production to the United States is the company can design more easily to meet North American criteria instead of European specs. An example of this is 30-in. rows. “Most crops in North America are planted on 30-in. rows,” said Steve Koep, vice president of sales. “Europe, not so much. At the same time, some farmers are going to 22-in rows, so you have to design for fit and also take into account the trends.”
The new Gleaner Super 7 series Class 7 combine is another example of equipment designed for North America, Koep said. These combines are built lightweight, enabling users to get into wet fields, and have more capacity than their predecessors.
A third example is the move to high-clearance self-propelled sprayers, being driven by the volume of late fungicide applications. “We are watching that to determine whether it will be a long-term demand or a fleeting trend,” Koep said. “The last thing we want to do is focus all the design and development work in chasing a demand that is only temporary. By being in North America, we can be sensitive to whether it is the real deal or a fleeting trend.”
When asked if AGCO is still able to benefit from design work completed in other countries, Koep said yes. “German engineering is known for producing high quality, intricate machines,” he said. “So there is something to be said about the culture in which the product is created. The trick is being able to use the technology that is beneficial and then making it your own rather than simply pasting it into the North American market.”
One major technology that came out of Germany is the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which AGCO brought to North America in the late 1990s.