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27 June 2019

UK exhibition premieres for innovative Kubota machines

First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
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Kubota Plantworx 2019 stand.jpg
Kubota UK's stand at Plantworx 2019

Kubota UK recently staged the British exhibition premiere of Kubota’s prototype KX019-4 LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) mini excavator and KC70-4e electric mini crawler dumper.

First showcased at bauma 2019 in Munich, Germany, in April, the KX019-4 LPG was a prominent feature on Kubota UK’s 40th anniversary year-themed stand at Plantworx 2019 (11-13 June) held at The East of England Showground in Peterborough. The prototype model can run on LPG and is powered by a next generation Kubota Spark Ignition series engine.

Kubota UK says that the new KX019-4 LPG makes it possible for users to work in emissions-restricted access areas such as cities. The mini excavator is also said to generate less noise emissions. Using the industrial standard gas bottles available everywhere, the KX019-4 us is easily and quickly refuelled by replacing the bottle. The machine is equipped with a reserve tank (gas accumulator) so that the operator can notice before the gas bottle becomes empty.

The performance characteristics of KX019-4 LPG are the same as the diesel powered KX019. The excavator’s undercarriage is variable, which allows operators to enter areas with under a metre of access. Kubota UK says the machine does not compromise on the level of stability and security required due to an enlarged lower frame. Furthermore, the working range of KX019-4 LPG provides an operational amplitude and is said to guarantee a maximum digging depth of over two-and-a-half metres, sufficient for urban applications.     

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Kubota's EU Stage V version of the V5009 engine was on display at Plantworx 2019

Another standout model on the Kubota UK stand at Plantworx 2019 was the bauma 2019 unveiled KC70-4e electric mini crawler dumper.

The new machine runs on a lithium battery but is said to offer the same level of performance as those powered by diesel or petrol. It allows users to work where gas emissions or noise levels may restrict the use of machinery in certain environments.

The KC70-4e is equipped with a state-of-the-art lithium battery (48V – 100Ah) and has a payload capacity of 700kg. With a width of 750mm the electric mini dumper can enter buildings. It has a robust and consolidated lower frame which makes it easy to operate and manoeuvre.

The KC70-4e’s transmission has been changed from hydraulic to electric, with two electric CTE2010 motors present in the lower frame which run at 48V. Kubota UK says these features allow the machine to considerably increase its working autonomy with maximum operational ease across a range of jobs and settings.

The KC70-4e will be available across Europe from early 2020 via Kubota’s extensive dealer network.

Speaking at Plantworx 2019, Glen Hampson, Kubota UK business development manager, construction, said: “Last year, we had a 37% of market share in UK mini excavator sales – 6,387 out of a total market of 17,500. It was a rise of around three per cent on the previous year. It’s been good. This year we are on 38% retail and 34% wholesale [sales] – the latter is predominantly down to pre-Brexit sales orders.

“It’s not only the UK that has had this growth spurt. Our German sales are 16% up so far in 2019. We will have around 5,500 Kubota mini excavator sales across the full year. We’ve also seen an increase in our French mini excavator sales. People know we have a reliable product that doesn’t break down. They know the life cycle cost of their Kubota mini excavator. They also know what it’s resale value will be in three-or-four-years’ time.

“We’re always looking at future product development and trying to anticipate how the market is going to go. We’ve worked hard to get the brand name we’ve got and the customer satisfaction levels we have. We only bring a machine to market when everything about it is right.”

Hampson said the overall UK mini excavator market is down 9.6% [as of mid-June 2019]. “The ongoing Brexit situation has seen a lot of our national accounts holding back on investing in new machines. However, our smaller dealers in rural areas are doing well. I think by the end of the year UK mini excavator sector sales will be down around 5-6%.”

Kubota’s classic 1978 digger, the KH10, and the KX037-4 mini excavator were also on display at Plantworx 2019. Meanwhile and for the first time in the UK, exhibition visitors saw the EU Stage V five litre V5009 engine – Kubota’s aggregates crusher-suited entry into the 200HP (150kW) category, which was awarded ‘Diesel of the Year’ at bauma 2019.

“For a 157kW engine, it’s actually a very compact product. It will go into mass production later this year and is an engine that has been designed very much with the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) in mind,” said Daniel Grant, marketing manager BU Engine Europe at Kubota Europe.

Kubota UK also displayed the EU Stage V version of Kubota’s longstanding market proven V1505 common-rail turbocharged diesel engine. The 33kW model is one of the Japanese OEM’s best-selling engines.

Of changes to global off-highway machine engine customer preferences, Grant added: “We’re seeing a lot more interest in alternative fuel technologies to diesel – electric, petrol, bio or synthetic fuels and LPG, for example. Saying that, there is definitely life left in diesel. There is a lot of growth across different [global engine] market sectors, particularly in the higher regulated markets.”

In May 2019, Kubota announced plans to open two new state-of-the-art innovation centres – one in Europe and the other in Japan.

Working together with external partners, the Innovation Centres will accelerate the creation of new products and services for construction, agriculture and other sector customers by developing new ICT-based solutions, drawing on latest technologies including AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Kubota’s new Japanese innovation centre was due to open this month, with the European innovation site due to open in July 2019. The major global off-highway manufacturer says it is considering opening more innovation centres in other key regions over the coming years.

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