If you’re a French farmer looking for a no-frills, low-price tractor, the choice of maker is widening – and the same could soon be true for UK farmers too.
Turkey doesn’t sound like an obvious bastion of tractor-making, but it’s the latest country to join those already producing simple, low-tech tractors for smaller farms.
Turkish parts and castings manufacturer Erkunt has only been making tractors since 2004, but according to regional sales manager Alper Basaran it has plans to export its simple-tech tractors to western European markets under the Armatrac brand name.
The tractors themselves are fairly simple – don’t expect electronic hitches, powershift transmissions or snazzy dashboards – but encompass some familiar names like Perkins engines, ZF transmissions and Carraro axles. The model range currently starts at 60hp and includes 70hp and 80hp models and a 95hp version due in November.
The price-tag of the current range-topping 804T is between 27,000 and 29,000 euros (£17,820 and £19,140). For that you get a 16+8 gearbox, 540 + 540E pto speeds, 40kph top speed and six colour options.
Servicing is always one of the worries for farmers buying tractors from a new company, but Mr Basaran says that many of the parts are standard items and that import rights will only go to a company that undertakes to purchase a specified level of parts as well as the tractors themselves. But you can’t buy one yet because Armatrac is looking for a UK distributor.
Chinese-made tractors are also nearing UK shores. YTO was showing a well-screwed-together 90hp tractor called the X904. According to the French importer Claude Nicolas, it’s based on a Fiat 80-90 with an engine developed jointly between a Chinese manufacturer and UK-based diesel technology experts Ricardo. Cost is likely to be around the 20,000 euro (£13,200).
YTO’s 40hp tractors have been brought in by Spalding-based Rabtrak for the last three years and the firm’s Richard Burkitt says they have been reliable. He plans to bring the X904 over to the UK to show to dealers this spring and is convinced that there’s a market for a simple, non-electronic tractor. The X904 already meets EU emissions standards, he adds.
Just around the corner from YTO was another Chinese tractor Changfa. Its 804 model isn’t sold in European markets but the maker was at SIMA to test the water. The company has been making tractors for eight years and the 804 is all its own design other than the Ricardo-refined engine it has in common with the YTO.
The third Chinese tractor maker at SIMA, Foton Lovol, has extended the range of tractors it sells in France. Sold through distributor Eurotek, 60hp and 82hp cabbed models join 25 and 40hp tractors.
Power is provided by Perkins-designed engines produced under licence, but the technology is fairly primitive. Gearboxes on the more powerful tractors are unsynchronised and the three-point linkage lacks any calibration in the cab.
So what other choices are there for the farmer looking for low-cost tractor marque? With Polish-made Ursus tractors not currently being imported into the UK and Zetor moving steadily up the price and sophistication ladder, the other choice is Belarus tractors from the ex-USSR country of the same name.
Belarus’s no-frills tractors are sold in the UK in small numbers through Yorkshire importer Brown’s of Liversedge. Manager Vladimir Yanchevski said that Chinese-made tractors were beginning move into what was traditionally an East European-dominated market though some makers would be put off by the high costs of getting emissions compliance.
Belarus also had three prototype models on its stand, though it’s not been decided whether they will come to the UK. The 1222 will be a replacement for the 1221 and will be fitted with either a Perkins or Deutz Tier 3 compliant engine instead of the current locally-made engine. There was also a 921, which could be the replacement for the current 920.