GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The newest building at Kubota Manufacturing of America’s 234.5 acre site in Gainesville, Ga., is now producing the new Kubota RTV-XG850 Sidekick, the company’s first entry in the multi-purpose crossover utility vehicle market.

Projected 2018 production for Building 4, which also produces the RTV 400/500 series, is 119,700 units, up from 107,745 units in 2017. (See the sidebar, “View from Inside,” for more details.)

Rural Lifestyle Dealer had an up-close look at the new vehicles and the manufacturing facility. Here are some highlights.

Why the focus on the multi-purpose crossover market?

The multi-purpose crossover utility vehicle market is the fast growing segment within the product category, according to Kubota. The segment has experienced 12% average growth while all over utility vehicle segments have shrunk, according to Rajesh Joshi, director of product marketing for turf and RTV.


The RTV-XG850 Sidekick’s large chassis and gas engine complements the company’s current mid-chassis gas and large chassis diesel lineup, he says.

The vehicle was announced back in February at the National Farm Machinery Show and it started shipping to dealers in late July/early August. “It took some time to get the supply chain in order,” says Joshi.

View from Inside Building 4, Kubota Manufacturing of America, Gainesville, Ga.

  • 500,000 square feet
  • Mixed production of RTV-XG850 Sidekick and RTV 400/500 series
  • 2018 production forecast is 119,700 units, up from 107,745 units in 2017
  • Unit completed every 200 seconds
  • Just-in-time processes with one day’s supply of parts
  • Japanese production process used referred to as Beki, a Japanese phrase for targets or goals. Monitors display the production efficiency, with the plant averaging 87% efficiency. If the production efficiency is 85% or below, the production line is stopped to examine for issues related to components, training, etc.
  • Vehicles ship directly to dealers
  • Three conveyors, with employees assembling products on the middle conveyor
  • Robotic technology includes welding and autonomous guided vehicles for parts delivery

Roger Gifford, Kubota's product marketing manager for utility vehicles, says, “They key purchase drivers are speed of transport and cargo and hauling capacity. We wanted to build a machine that satisfied the utility vehicle customer and introduced something new in the multi-purpose market.”

What are the key specifications?

The RTV-XG850 is the first Kubota product available in 4 colors — orange, camo, green (for the turf market) and black — and is its fastest utility vehicle yet, with speeds up to 40 mph.

The 48 horsepower water-cooled gas engine is available in 2 or 4-cylinder options and has a CVT Plus transmission (CVT with centrifugal clutch). It offers speed-sensitive electronic power steering, selectable full-time 4WD, front and rear independent suspension and engine-assisted deceleration.

Other design features include:

  • 60:40 split-bench seats
  • 2,000-pound towing capacity
  • 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space
  • Steel cargo bed with tie-down hooks
  • Dumping cargo box
  • Half doors and shoulder guards
  • Under seat storage
  • LED headlights
  • More than 50 new attachments

Who are the intended buyers?

The Sidekick is intended as a work vehicle for farms, ranches, construction sites and other similar operations. Joshi says crossover buyers are looking for speeds fast enough to travel among sites (up to 50 mph) and cargo and towing capacity. He also says there is some shift from ATV buyers to the crossover market, but most of the buyers are new. There is also a shift from the pickup market, with those buyers looking for a less expensive more fuel efficient alternative.


Who are the competitors?

Gifford outlines who he see as the competitors. “The Kawasaki Mule is not in this segment. The John Deere XUV 835 is a vehicle we’re constantly watching and we feel we have a machine to go up against it. There is opportunity with Polaris 900 buyers, someone who really wants to work.”

He also says competitors’ vehicles offer speed and they boast of a similar cargo capacity, but don’t have the suspension and handling capacity of the Sidekick. Competitors also offer similar towing capacity, but their machines don’t provide the same level of durability as the Sidekick.

Gifford also says Kubota is not interested in expanding into the sport vehicle market. “There is nothing on the horizon. That is not our customer.”

Saving Setup Time

Gifford says options like quick clamps for canopies and windshields save setup time for dealers and setup costs for customers. “The salesperson can take it out of the box and install it. They don’t have to take it to the setup department. It saves money and they can keep those margins in the sale.”



View a photo gallery >>