14 May 1999

Big demand for tracklayers sees power increase

By Mike Williams

A SURGE in the demand for tracklayers is taking UK tractor buyers beyond the 400hp barrier for the first time.

Previously the biggest tractors normally available in the UK have been in the 350hp-375hp bracket. Anything above this level was considered too big for UK farms, but this theory has been disproved by the success of top models in the tracklayer market.

Case IH and Class both offer rubber-tracked crawler tractors with power outputs of 400hp or more, and both are finding arable customers who are ready to part with big money for the most powerful tractors available in the UK.

The biggest model in the Case IH Quadtrac range of crawler tractors is rated at 400hp, but the maximum output is 425hp. It was launched in the UK last autumn, and the sales total since than has reached seven, taking sales away from the 360hp version as customers vote with their cheque books for the bigger engine. Prices are £170,000 for the 360hp Quadtrac and £180,000 for the 400hp version.

Claas also caters for the 400hp plus sector of the market with the 95E model at the top of the Challenger tracklayer range. This has a six-cylinder Caterpillar engine with 12 litres capacity producing 410hp, and the UK price is £160,000 with a three-point linkage kit available at extra cost. The 95E arrived in the UK last summer, and two sales have been recorded so far.

Rubber-tracked models like the Challengers, the Quadtracs and the John Deere 8000T series now dominate the UK crawler tractor market, and their success has brought a big upturn in tracklayer market. Precise figures for UK sales of crawler tractors are not available, but the estimate for 1998 was about 70, and forecasts for this year suggest the market will be 100 plus. &#42