We know your equipment customers, especially the rural lifestyler types, like to match colors of their small implements around their homesteads and are often willing to pay a premium for the aesthetics. But before you ask your majors to come with a true green, red, blue electric tractor for your rural lifestyle customers, consider the Aug. 26-27, 2023 Wall Street Journal article by Holman Jenkins Jr.
Among many other points in his opinion piece on the “stupidity” of EV policies in the automotive world, Jenkins summarized how the CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, admitted that Ford “needed more profits from gas-powered cars to cover losses from electric vehicles.”
This isn’t to say that electric tractors don’t have a place on American acreages, because they do, and a lot of consumers and first-time hobbyists will gladly open their wallets wide for small tractors to handle their limited-hour chores.To date, this demand is being satisfied through independents like Monarch Tractor and Solectrac. Perhaps that’s where they should stay, with the specialists, who are building infrastructures specific for this product.
One could argue that farm equipment manufacturers shouldn’t yield the turf to what could be a competing distribution model. But the true American farm equipment industry also doesn’t need the majors distracted at a time when making affordable autonomous and other high-tech equipment should be the No. 1 priority. But with electric vehicles attracting the attention of what is portrayed as an endless demand, not to mention the appetite of the investor community, the not-so-far-away farm equipment business might be careful what it wishes for.
History shows what can happen when a world-class ag equipment manufacturer like International Harvester becomes enthralled with consumer products that, along with poor labor contracts, can bankrupt an industry icon.
What do you think? Do you want your major-line in, or out, on the small electric tractor segment?