Is the £30,000 premium you'd pay for a Fendt tractor worth it? Judging by the latest sales figures, many farmers are beginning to think so.
According to Fendt UK sales manager Richard Shelton, a significant factor behind the increased sales is farming businesses trying to get more productivity from each piece of machinery and focusing more on the "life costs" of machinery, such as fuel consumption and depreciation.
"Many are unaware that life costs account for 60% of a machine's total cost," he says. "Only 40% of the true cost of ownership is the initial purchase price."
In 2008, the premium German marque held 2.5% of the total UK tractor market and 19.1% of tractors over 201hp. Last year, despite total UK tractor sales falling by 12%, the company increased its sales from 477 to 625 tractors, taking its share to 3.8%.
Fendt's aim for 2010 is a 1% increase, he added. "We're running at 5.8% on the back of January-February sales, but expect to end somewhere close to 4.8%."
The figures were announced at the UK launch of Fendt's newest ranges, the 200 and 800, where both existing and prospective Fendt owners had a chance to see the new models and discuss machinery costing decisions.
The event illustrated farmers' different buying philosophies. Farmeco, for instance, which farms 1400ha (3500 acres) of combineable crops in Nottinghamshire, ran a mixed fleet of tractors until June last year, including three John Deeres, one Fastrac and one New Holland, according to manager Keith Challen.
"We purchased a Fendt 933 last June, and followed this with a 930, two 716s and a 395. We now run a solely Fendt fleet."
The move coincided with a change in establishment methods from min-till to direct drilling, he explains. "OK, so they do come at a premium price, but depreciation works out 30% lower after five years."
Richard Cotton runs a similar acreage of arable, beef and sheep near Exeter in Devon. He operates a mainly John Deere fleet consisting of one 8520, one 7920 and one 7530 alongside a Massey Ferguson 7480. "We're always changing our tractors depending on the deal being offered, but try to keep hours below 4000hrs."
"We've had two Fendt demos, one of a 900 and one of an 818, which we were impressed by but felt the cab was poor for the cost. The new 800 range seems to have a better cab, so it puts it more in the running."
800 and 200 models
Previously, Fendt offered just two 800 Vario TMS models - the 818 with 185hp and the 820 with 205hp. Now, the company will also offer a new five-model range spanning 200hp to 280hp.
This all-new series, powered by a six-litre, six-cylinder Deutz Power Systems block, aims to combine the compactness of the 820, the company's best-selling model, with the power, cab and back-end of the flagship 900s.
The 819 to 828 Vario range will be the first to use Deutz engines with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, jointly developed by Fendt and Deutz. All five models will have a top speed of 60kph (40mph) like their larger 900 stablemates, and be fitted with dual-circuit braking.
The 200 range now completes the all-Vario line-up with a five-model series ranging from 70-110hp. The 207-211 Vario will be the first Fendt range to use Agco Sisu Power engines, but according to the company, all other ranges will remain powered by Deutz.
• Read more about the 800 and 200 series and watch our videos