18 January 2002

Tractor tally is up by 11.7%

By Andy Collings

BETTER news for the tractor industry – according to the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA), UK tractor registrations in 2001 increased by 11.7% to total 11,645 units.

This is a higher total than the previous three years and one which has been attained despite a devastating foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

Main factors

AEA economist Chris Evans believes influencing factors to be the improvement in dairy incomes, a continued restructuring of farming, and the fact that there are those who have needed to replace their tractors after several years of reduced investment.

The bulk of the years increase was achieved in the last quarter when favourable autumn weather conditions prevailed.

For the year ahead, the industry reports it has firm order books which could lead to a continuation of healthy sales numbers for the first quarter. But from then on much will depend on climatic and market conditions.

Mr Evans predicts that 2002 tractor registrations could be a little below last years high levels with the total being nearer the 11,000 mark. &#42

While the UK tractor industry can feel reasonably buoyed by the news that tractor registrations increased by 11.7 % last year, it is worth recalling that the 11,654 units recorded is the fourth lowest total on record.

In the 1960s and 1970s, annual totals rarely dropped below 30,000 units and, as recently as 1995, totals approaching 20,000 were recorded. The big plunge came in 1998 when a 37% drop took the market down to an unprecedented sub-10,000 total. Since then, there has been a steady recovery, but many believe the market will plateau on or around the 11,000 mark. Low as this figure may look when compared to earlier years, the essential point to note is that the actual amount of horsepower sold is actually higher now than ever before. In other words, there are fewer tractors sold but they are more powerful.

Year Units % Change

1990 16,885 —

1991 14,315 -15.2

1992 13,454 -6.0

1993 17,899 33.0

1994 18,132 1.3

1995 19,000 4.8

1996 18,615 -2.0

1997 15,272 -18.0

1998 9,586 -37.2

1999 10,969 14.4

2000 10,422 -5.0

2001 11,645 11.7