John Deere’s Mannheim tractor factory celebrates a memorable anniversary in April 2010: the roll-out of the first green and yellow John Deere Lanz tractors from the assembly lines, 50 years ago this month.
John Deere 500 tractor at work in 1960.
The new John Deere Lanz 28hp 300 and 36hp 500 tractor models not only ended the era of the technically outdated Lanz Bulldog, but also marked the start of a completely new approach to the requirements of European customers… and of a manufacturing success story.
Since April 1960, the John Deere Werke Mannheim (JDWM) factory has assembled over 1,335 million machines, including several thousand wheel and crawler loaders up to 1983. Starting at just over 5000 units per annum in the early 1960s, and driven by a high demand for mechanisation in agriculture, production at Mannheim rapidly increased to a peak of 41,000 units in 1977.
Following structural changes in European and worldwide agricultural markets, tractor production at Mannheim then decreased in the 1980s and the early 1990s, to bottom out at 21,200 units in 1993. Thanks to innovative product design, the opening up of central and eastern European markets and increased overall demand worldwide, Mannheim’s production subsequently recovered to reach an all-time high of 45,700 tractors in 2008.
Having started a new era in the 1960s with just the two 300 and 500 tractor models, with few features, JDWM today offers 29 basic models from 70 to over 200hp, with a wide range of transmission options, specifications and accessories. These tractors are marketed in more than 80 countries worldwide, with approximately 50 per cent of production sold in Western Europe.
John Deere 7530 Premium and John Deere 300 tractors at the end of the John Deere Werke Mannheim (JDWM) assembly line.
Accounting for two-thirds of German tractor production in total, the Mannheim factory has been Germany’s largest manufacturer and exporter of agricultural tractors since 1972, and represents John Deere’s largest asset outside North America.
Within just 10 tractor generations, John Deere’s market share in Western Europe has grown 10 times to reach almost 19 per cent, with market leading positions in Germany, the UK, France, Spain and 10 other European countries. One of the main contributors to the success of Mannheim tractors has been the modular steel frame design introduced on the 6000 Series models in 1992. This enabled customers to ‘custom design’ their tractors, and provided a new level of flexibility in the manufacturing process.
Today, the Mannheim factory’s flagship model is the 200hp 7530E Premium, a hybrid tractor which produces up to 20kW of electrical power, with a generator to supply components such as the cooling fan and the air brake and air conditioning compressors. This not only contributes to fuel savings of up to 13 per cent, but also provides the user with two electrical sockets of 230 and 400V for external tools. The 7530E Premium concept was awarded a gold medal at Agritechnica 2007, and has received numerous other international awards for its progressive design.
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