Arbos, a brand that is practically unknown in Ireland, showcased tractors from its new line-up at this week’s SIMA show in Paris.

The tractors are the result of a collaboration between Foton, one of China’s largest tractor manufacturers, and an Italian firm.

The tractors are expected to start popping up at trade shows in the UK and possibly Ireland in 2018.

3-model 5000 Series

The 5000 Series comprises three models, from 100 to 130hp. All are fitted with Kohler, 3-cylinder, 3.4L turbo-charged engines, which are Tier IV Final compliant.

Arbos tractor

The basic ‘Global’ transmission provides 30 forward and 30 reverse speeds, with a two-speed powershift (splitter) and a mechanical shuttle. Buyers can opt for a 40 or 50kph top speed. The more costly ‘Advanced’ transmission offers 45 forward and 15 reverse speeds, with a three-speed powershift.

The transmissions are manufactured in-house.

The inside of the cab is reasonably smartly finished, albeit in a strangely light colour for a tractor. Buyers can even opt for a TFT 7in digital display.

Arbos tractor

Rear lift capacity is a shade under 4.5t and the hydraulic system has a maximum flow-rate of 110L/min. Up to three double-acting, mechanical control valves with detent, kick-out and float, can be specified at the rear.

Prices, at the show in France, start at just €46,000 excluding VAT for the entry-level 100hp model – the 5100.

The company expects that its larger prototype offerings – the 6 Series (140-200hp) and 7 Series (220-260hp) will go into full production next year.

Arbos tractor

Chinese timeline

Foton (Lovol), from China, is effectively the company behind the new Arbos tractor line-up.

Since its foundation in 1998, Foton has grown to become a very significant manufacturer of agricultural and earth-moving equipment, alongside an extensive range of diesel engines and light vehicles.

Today, Foton claims to be the biggest Chinese manufacturer of farm machinery; it makes 100,000 tractors each year and reportedly has a 35-40% share of its home market. The company also builds 50,000 combine harvesters annually. Yearly turnover is now estimated at €3.15 billion.

The establishment of Lovol Arbos Group three years ago – Foton’s tie-up with Arbos – signalled the company’s intention to break into the European tractor market.

Though largely unknown elsewhere in Europe, the Italian-based Arbos company had a long history of making tractors – initially under the Bubba name. The firm also produced combine harvesters; the last of these was produced in the mid 1990s.

The result of all of this is a range of tractors – the new Arbos line-up.

Considering the resources that underpin Foton, and hence Lovol Arbos Group, it is likely that this new family of tractors will gain some ground across Europe over the coming years.

Italian origins

The Arbos story, on the Italian side, started way back in the 1890s, when the Bubba family opened a small workshop in Santimento in northern Italy. There, they started making basic farm implements. In 1896, the first thresher was produced.

In 1923, the family built its first hot-bulb engined tractor, followed by its first crawler tractor in 1936.

During the early 1950s, the company bought a bicycle factory – trading under the name Arbos – and moved to new premises. There, it started producing combine harvesters, with the first being fitted with a Deutz air-cooled engine.

In 1964, American firm White bought Arbos, leading to the development of a whole plethora of new machines.

Unfortunately, Arbos closed in 1994 when it was only four years away from its centennial celebrations. 10 years later, the Chinese stepped in – to resurrect the Arbos brand-name from the ashes.