12 April 2002

AGCO and Claas resolve Challenger distribution

By Peter Hill

AFTER weeks of speculation, the outcome of high-level negotiations between AGCO and Claas over European distribution of Challenger tracked tractors has now been decided.

AGCO will handle the all-new MT series tractors, which will be turned out in the yellow livery of the corporations new Challenger brand. The 235-306hp MT700 range will go on sale following a public unveiling at the Cereals event in June, with the 340-500hp MT800 series due later in the year.

The surprise element is that AGCO will use the tractors to establish a new dealer network selling a range of Challenger products from field implements to wheeled tractors.

Andrew Rabett, who has joined AGCO from Claas as Challenger marketing manager, says there would clearly be little point signing dealers to sell wheeled tractors in direct competition with Massey Ferguson and Fendt outlets.

"But in some western and, particularly, eastern European markets, there is potential to establish this new brand and a new distribution network," he says.

In the UK, it is an "open house" as far as dealer appointments are concerned.

"We are not restricted to existing AGCO dealers; the Challenger brand will be a stand-alone operation," Mr Rabett emphasises. "Several dealers previously selling the Claas Challenger have already expressed interest in handling the new tractor, as have others. We will look at all options."

Although Claas has lost the chance to sell the new tracklayers, it has a contract with Caterpillar to continue supplying parts and technical back-up to existing users. &#42