Despite the economic downturn and talk of "softness" in the small tractor and outdoor equipment market, we've found some new products and experimental machines that show what some of the manufacturers are thinking, and what you may see in showrooms as early as next year.
For instance, there's Branson's "Forklift" tractor, a concept the company is showing at selected farm shows around the country to get the feel of consumer reaction. This swap-around on the 30 hp. Branson tractor is aimed at the turf and nursery industry and anyone else who needs a loader vehicle with the guts of a tractor.
Another soon-to-be newcomer to the United States small tractor market is this Shire tractor, named for the English draft horse, and built mainly in China. Chris Parrot, the English mastermind of this conglomerate -- the tractor has components built in a variety of nations depending upon standards for fit and finish and quality -- says "we use the best of what we can get for bearings, seals, etc.," explaining the Shire will be a far better product than some "low-end" Chinese products, and that Shire will have an ample parts supply and distribution system built before the first Shire is sold in the U.S. Currently Parrot is looking for dealers for the 30-55 horsepower, synchromesh transmission models he plans to market here within the next year. For more, click on www.shiretractors.com.
We were also impressed with this new all-electric multiple terrain utility vehicle from the folks who build Bad Boy Mowers. The Batesville, Ark., company is tooling up to produce this 48-volt MTV in two and four passenger models with long and short beds by January, 2009. The electric-powered vehicle is capable of traveling 20-30 miles on a charge, and taking a recharge of its lead-acid batteries in 8 hours. Diesel and gasoline models of this high-clearance vehicle are also in the offing. Check out www.badboymowers.com.