Kubota was among the first of the Japanese mini excavators to make landfall in the UK back in the 1980s. At the time, their products – already a market leader in their native country – were derided as toys and dismissed as suitable only for excavating window boxes. This year, the company will sell £100 million worth of mini excavators.
Kubota’s ability to overcome market resistance will stand it in good stead as it enters two new spheres: tracked carriers and – more challenging still – compact wheel loaders. The ability to sell its newly extended range of tracked carriers into a variety of markets already familiar with the Kubota mini excavator marque makes this a logical expansion of the brand. But selling compact wheel loaders flies in the face of UK construction equipment fashion. For while our European neighbours in Germany, France and the Netherlands buy small wheel loaders by the cartload, the UK has traditionally preferred its machine with either a backhoe on the rear or – more recently – some telescoping capability on the front.
The six models that make up the Kubota RT series are, in fact, manufactured in the Netherlands by Tobroco, an established purveyor of wheel loaders for the discerning Continental European market. Each is powered by a fuel efficient and emissions compliant Kubota diesel engine that will again be familiar to UK customers. And, indeed, the articulated machines – the RT100, RT140, RT150, RT210, RT270 and top-of-the-range RT280 – look every bit a worthy extension to the Kubota market offering.
The largest model in the RT range is the 2.6 tonne RT280 that is powered by a V1505-T diesel engine developing 33 kW at 2,000 rpm. The machine is equipped with heavy duty axles and a hydrostatic transmission that affords a 25 km/hour travel speed and provides sufficient grunt in rough terrain.
The smallest model is the RT100, a 1,175 kg unit is powered by a Kubota D722 engine producing 15 kW and a top speed of 12 km/hour. A 47 degree articulation allows this compact model to turn within a small space making it ideally suited to sites where space is at a premium. A 5.3 degree oscillation also allows the machine to travel over rougher terrain. Like the larger models in the RT range, the machine is operated from within a comfortable and well-appointed ROPS and FOPS certified canopy. In addition to the standard 0.23 m3 capacity bucket, the RT100 is offered with an extensive array of front-end attachments including sweepers, blades, grabs and grapples. Operational flexibility is enhanced still further by a wide selection of hitches and couplers including a Bobcat hitch. “This is not a single build,” says Kubota UK’s senior dealer manager, Richard Sayers. “Customers can choose the basic model and then add hitches, attachments, and tyres to suit their application. These ‘specials’ can be turned around in just six weeks from order to delivery.”
This system of base machine plus custom additions has a very tractor market feel to it, and for good reason. The Kubota RT range was introduced into the German market, primarily, as a construction product but quickly expanded into the agricultural market. Richard Sayers anticipates the reverse here in the UK, suggesting that the initial sales split will be around 65 percent into the agricultural market and 35 percent into construction.
Spec sheets for each of the new models can be accessed using the links below: