Same platform, different
Case and New Holland now
have tractors and
machinery built from a
common platform – its a
way of saving costs. But
parent company CNH is
determined that brand
identity is maintained.
Andy Collings reports
DIFFERENTIATION is something Same and Lamborghini have been practising for years; Agco, through its large number of brand titles – including now the Challenger brand – has also been doing it. And now it is the turn of CNH.
For the uninitiated, differentiation is the art of using a large percentage of the same components to build two different looking tractor brands and, with it, a way of reducing production costs.
Inevitable as it was that CNH with its New Holland and Case divisions would take this route, the company is adamant that, through the launch of a new range of tractors, combines, forage harvesters and balers, brand identity has been maintained.
Just why CNH is so anxious to preserve product identity is clear. Unlike the Ford and Fiat merger, where the product division was largely by country, New Holland and Case compete on each others doorsteps.
If one and one is to make two for CNH the company realises that it has to retain brand identity – and with it, dealer and customer loyalty.
The problem is that, at one end of the production process CNH is committed to producing machinery with common parts to achieve financial savings, while at the other it has to convince the trade that the Case and New Holland brands are different. And thats not just down to paint colour.
According to president and chief executive Paolo Monferino, the creation of CNH has resulted in significant savings – $430m through 2001 and a projection of a profit improvement of $850m by 2005.
"We are driving down costs through the rationalisation of our manufacturing processes," he says. "We are also making savings on purchases and administrative costs."
Mr Monferino also says that the introduction of a common platform strategy for the production of tractors and other machinery in Case and New Holland livery has led to significant savings.
"This strategy has contributed to a profit improvement of $280m," he says. "The resources freed allow greater investment in new developments. By the end of 2004 almost all of CNHs ranges will have been replaced since the company was formed in 2002."
The common platform policy now means that major components such as engine, transmission and axles are identical with styling differences to be found in areas such as operator controls and cowling design.
For the new tractors 65% of parts are common to both brands; for the balers and forage harvesters the percentage could be higher.
In terms of product announcements the Case marque sees the introduction of the 6-model, 124-194hp MXM Maxxum Tractors which replace the MX Maxxum range.
New features include an adjustable cab suspension, a six-speed semi-powershift and an option of a full powershift on larger models. Power is provided by turbo charged and intercooled 7.5 litre engines which are Tier II emission compliant.
The MXM Maxxum tractors can be seen as the Case equivalent of the New Holland TM series which was introduced in January 2000 and now also benefits from Tier II emission compliance.
Continuing in the same theme the New Holland TL range aimed at the 60-100hp market is matched to the new Case JXU Maxxima range.
The New Holland TDD utility tractors – 55-100hp – have the Case JX Maxxima in the same power band.
Topping the marques though are the New Holland TG and Case MXMagnum tractors which take the power band through to the sub 300hp level.
New Hollands round baler lineup is now reproduced virtually bolt for bolt in Case livery, as are the forage harvesters, although there have been some updates in this department.
On the combine harvester front however, there still remains distinct design differences – Case has it Axial flow range which is set to benefit from a new rotor design to create the "Exclusive" range, and New Holland is set to introduce the twin rotor CR series – the 333hp CR 960 and the 428hp CR 980.
The CR employs two longitudinal-mounted rotors which replace conventional threshing components. It is said to out perform New Hollands earlier twin rotor combine, the TF78 by as much as 20%.
New Hollands combine range will also see the edition of the CS combine, a straw walker model which bridges the gap between the entry level TC and TX ranges.
Few would deny that Case and New Holland are two of the best-known names in the farm machinery business. Just how important product differentiation is for customers is difficult to assess. The general consensus between CNH staff is that dealer loyalty is of a greater influence. *
Note the different styling between the New Holland TG285 (top) and the Case MX285. Acommon platform lies beneath.