The final Agricultural Engineers’ Association (AEA) analysis of new UK tractor registration figures for 2015 reveals that 10,842 units of 50hp and above were registered during 2015, a drop of 13% over the 12,433 total achieved at the end of 2014. The market has been in decline since 2011, when the number of units registered totalled 14,094.
Sales during every month of the calendar year underperformed when compared with the comparable months in 2014, according to AEA statistics, which are compiled from Department for Transport registration figures. The 50hp and above guideline is used to help identify tractors more likely to be used for agricultural use, as opposed to machines under this mark which are commonly used for sports turf maintenance, horticultural works and other purposes.
During October, November and December, the market actually slightly outperformed that of the corresponding months during the previous year, but it had lagged behind during January-April, and fell sharply lower during the next two months, before trailing for the rest of the year until October, when it picked up a little.
According to the AEA, UK tractor registrations provide a broad indicator of the strength of the domestic market for agricultural equipment. Tractors counted in the statistics, compiled by AEA chief economist Chris Evans and his deputy, Graham Stannard, must be licensed for use on public roads and as such are registered with the Department for Transport, allowing an accurate count to be made. In value terms, sales of tractors, plus parts and accessories, account for almost a half of farmers’ total spend on equipment, calculates the AEA, suggesting that this again makes this data a prime indicator of the general state of investment in farm machinery.
At January’s LAMMA show at Peterborough, manufacturers and importers in attendance, and dealer visitors, appeared to remain cautious over the prospects of a recovery in numbers this year, particularly given continued pressure on crop, milk and meat prices. The one area in which some seemed to have confidence, though, was the market for competitively-priced sub-125hp tractors.
Having tentatively entered the UK market in 2013 by directly appointing a small handful of dealers, Turkish maker Armatrac now has an official UK and Ireland importer for its range of 50-110hp machines, which are powered by Perkins and – in the larger models – Deutz engines. The new firm, Stoke-on-Trent-based AS Tractor, is now seeking to appoint further dealers. Meanwhile, the Compact Tractor Centre of Bidford on Avon, which recently announced its deal to become importer for the range of South Korean-made Branson tractors, showed a number of the 21-74hp models.
One tractor maker not present was Kioti, the South Korean brand formerly brought in by Reco, the Cambs-based importer of multiple agricultural and turf machinery lines that is in the process of winding down its business. However, a return next year could be on the cards following the announcement that a Kioti UK business is being formed by a team of former Reco employees headed by former general sales manager Patrick Desmond. The new operation is owned by the Dutch Pols Group, already the Kioti importer for the Netherlands, France and Belgium, and a number of Kioti dealers under Reco have re-signed with the franchise, while others are being sought. Products include the Mechron side-by-side UTV, line of out-front mowers and a range of tractors from 26-73hp, which will be expanded to include models up to 110hp by the end of 2016, with models up to 145hp in development.Google+