Powering ahead - Ireland's Top 10 tractors
Derek Casey examines the sales performance of the country's most popular brands
Around this time every year we get the opportunity to assess the top tractor manufacturers' performances in the Irish machinery market.
Who has gained market share? Who is losing market share? And who are the ones to watch for next year?
The figures are a good barometer of brand success among Irish farmers and contractors, who have a reputation for pushing their tractors hard.
It's only now that we can assess tractor manufacturers' performances and market share for 2017, as EU legislation dictates that a full 12 months' trading must have passed before data from the year in question can be looked at.
So, what can we learn from the 2017 data?
Overall, 1,796 new tractors were registered during 2017. The following is the ranking of the top ten most popular brands in Ireland for that year:
1 Massey Ferguson
Massey Ferguson was the top-selling tractor brand in this country. Massey proved it really is "classy" by selling 400 units - 22.3pc of the market share for new tractors.
Massey's push to increase market share in recent years has been relentless. A clear marketing drive has been visible and seems to be targeted at younger farmers by aligning with the likes of the 'Tullow Tank' Sean O'Brien.
The cornerstone of its success, though, is a widening range of versatile stockman and loader tractor options.
Its growth in popularity is summed up by looking at the data from ten years previously: in 2007 Massey took just 12pc of the market, coming in third.
This means that in 10 years, Massey Ferguson close to doubled its market share in Ireland and jumped to the top of the pile.
2 John Deere
Coming in at a close second was John Deere, who sold 373 units - 20.8pc of the market share.
This strong performance can be attributed to a mix of ongoing clever marketing and a strategic dealer re-structuring which has been taking place in recent years.
Deere has also started to offer more farmer spec tractor options, but still managed to remain a firm favourite with contractors when it comes to the higher power brackets and high-specification tractors.
Their brand loyalty is legendary.
However, compared to ten years previously there has actually been some slippage: in 2007 John Deere topped the market share rankings at 24pc.
3 New Holland
In third position was New Holland, who sold 330 units - 18.4pc of the market.
Boosted by its T5, T6 and T7 series ranges in particular, seemingly offering a tractor for every application has allowed New Holland to remain hot on the heels of Massey Ferguson and John Deere.
The UK-made brand takes its marketing very seriously, holding stand-alone Irish events in recent years for new and existing customers.
That approach looks sure to keep them firmly among the big three brands.
In 2007 New Holland had 15pc of the new tractor market share here - solid growth.
4 Case IH
Case IH sold 151 units, or an 8.4pc slice of the market. Traditionally popular among dairy farmers (who know how to test a tractor), Case IH has built a reputation for reliability and durability.
The brand is stronger in certain parts of the country but always tends to have a strong marketing focus and presence for machinery events.
Ten years previously, Case IH took 6.5pc of the market, meaning it has made steady rather than spectacular progress.
Claas sold 110 units, giving the German manufacturer 6.1pc of the market.
In 2007 Claas only had 3.3pc, so there is no doubting the growth in popularity of the brand despite the overall numbers involved being modest.
Its success is no doubt related to the fact that a number of its Irish tractor dealers (such as Alan Douglas in Kildare) have won sales awards for performance in recent times.
Valtra sold 81 units (4.5pc of the total market).
The Finnish-made tractor has a name for durability and uses a lot of the same parts that has delivered success for sister brand Massey Ferguson.
However, Valtra has slipped marginally compared to ten years prior, when it had 4.9pc of the market.
The familiar bright green livery of Deutz-Fahr comes in at seventh place.
Deutz sold 64 new tractors in Ireland in 2017, a 3.6pc slice of the market - up from 3.2pc ten years previously.
It is another brand that is enjoying steady rather than spectacular gains, but Deutz seems to have a cult following among pockets of contractors and farmers.
Fendt sold 55 new tractors here, making up 3.1 pc of the overall market.
It is a high-end brand - often called the Rolls Royce of tractors - and with a price tag to match, it is never likely to sell in large numbers here.
However, the brand enjoys great loyalty amongst tillage farmers and contractors looking for the most cutting-edge operator technology.
Small numbers overall but Fendt has done well here since 2007, when it had just 1.5pc of the market.
Landini sold 54 units in 2017 for a 3pc share; 2017 was a turbulent year for the Italian tractor brand as its distribution arrangements in Ireland were changed for the first time in 26 years.
Despite a number of new models being launched and a modernisation of the brand, Landini has not been able to halt a steady slide in market share here - in 2007 had 7pc, to its share has more than halved.
Kubota squeezed into the top ten in 2017, selling 44 units, which gives them 2.4pc of the market.
The Japanese brand has been earmarked as one to watch in recent times as a steady stream of increasingly more powerful tractor ranges broadens its appeal.
Kubota narrowly kept Zetor, who sold 32 tractors in Ireland in 2017, out of the top ten.
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