26 Oct Zetor Tractors set for major transformation
Aprominent player in the agriculture sector, the history of Zetor Tractors can be traced back to 1946 when the Czech government identified a need for low-weight tractors that would be suitable for mass production. This need was fulfilled by the Zbrojovka Brno factory when the Z 25 tractor was created and the Zetor brand was born.
Today, the Czech company exports products to 136 countries and has sold more than 1.3 million tractors. It is also in the midst of a transformation that will see it explore new technologies and innovations that will allow it to expand into even more new markets.
“From the next year, we are completely changing our portfolio, because the leaders in the industry are aggregates and implements manufacturers. So we are developing new products to fit with these new technologies, from the GPS system to autonomous driving tractors,” explains Róbert Harman, Managing Director at Zetor Tractors. “We need to make this transition because the information technology sector is penetrating the agriculture sector. There are a lot of new technologies on the market so we have decided to discontinue old models and produce new tractors. The plan is to produce a completely new product portfolio.”
This move comes as the agricultural machinery industry undergoes a significant digitalization, with everything from artificial intelligence and robotics to IoT and 5G now providing invaluable support for farmers and those working in agribusiness.
“We are seeing a lot of startups and established companies now providing technology that farmers can buy and install in the tractor. That’s why we are developing a new generation of tractors that will be compatible with all of these new systems,” reveals Harman. “We realized the need to follow this trend and why our product portfolio will completely change by the end of next year. We have seen an opportunity in the market so our engineers can now utilize their creativity to create a tractor that will be able to meets the growing needs of our customer base.”
This customer base has increased significantly in recent years thanks to a push to penetrate the enormous Indian market. Having traditionally enjoyed success in Europe and the US, the decision was made to expand into South Asia and after several years of hard work, Zetor Tractors has established a foothold in the country.
“Back in 2012 I traveled to India to help establish our office and set up our daughter companies which are now very successful,” says Harman. “Last year we signed a joint-venture agreement with one local company and we are now starting the mass production of tractors that are made locally. We are starting to penetrate the Indian market, which is one of the biggest in the world. In fact, last year more than one million tractors were sold in India. This is a major milestone and an interesting move for Zetor Tractors in regard to our expansion plans. I believe this will be a big part of our future, especially in relation to the non-emission markets.”
However, when it comes to supplying tractors for countries in Europe and to the US, the Czech company recognized the need for vehicles that have less of an impact on the environment.
“Emissions are a big factor for us and it is why we are having to deliver completely different products for the European and US market,” adds Harman. “Due to the high standards in safety and emissions, we need to use the very latest technology and this, of course, makes the tractors more expensive. In India, as well as in Asia and Africa, they prefer simpler tractors. That is why we opened a company in India as we need to completely divide the old and new technology. It is also why we have a daughter company in the US which delivers more technologically advanced products that the market demands. This has led to us being very successful in America.”