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KUBOTA: MAKING JAPANESE TRACTORS IN NORTHERN FRANCE

Mampei Yamamoto

President of KUBOTA FARM MACHINERY EUROPE SAS

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A European leader

The Kubota story began in 1890, when Gonshiro Kubota developed iron water pipes to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Over the years, the company then built its success on four core values—innovation, quality, service and environmental protection. And as it grew, it diversified. Today Kubota’s business is focused on three sectors: 

  • industrial systems and equipment
  • environmental engineering
  • farm and industrial machinery

Today Kubota has conquered Europe with its mini-excavators, compact tractors and industrial diesel engines under 50 horsepower, serving European markets from its base in France.

New product, new site

In January 2013, as Kubota began scouting for the dedicated site it would need to launch a new large-scale tractor, three countries were in the running: Germany, the Netherlands and France. In late November 2013, after a thorough review of the proposed sites, the company chose Bierne, in Northern France. Two primary considerations drove its decision: 

  • France is Kubota’s biggest market in Europe
  • the region’s logistics infrastructure allowed for seamless distribution to France and Europe—and to international markets through the Port of Dunkerque.

Meeting investment goals

Kubota invested €40.3 million, building a 38,000-sq m assembly plant on a site that covers 115,000 sq m. The facility is now in operation, and its 160 employees are working towards a set of ambitious goals. In 2017, plans call for the export of 3,000 tractors: 1,500 to Europe, 1,000 to the US and Canada, 400 to Asia and 100 to Australia. Executives at the Bierne plant are happy with the quality of local labor, and they speak highly of the support they received from Nord France Invest and other local and regional authorities, who played a decisive role in bringing Kubota to France. The company’s board views the new plant as a great success, and is already considering expanding the site.