The Japanese-backed Indian tractor brand, Solis, might be one of the newest players on the world stage, but is also on track to be the biggest.
The company's pitch is it sells Japanese engineering with an Indian price tag and it has caught the eye of big Australian machinery importer and distributor, PFG, which launched the small- to mid-sized horsepower brand at the recent Henty Machinery Field Days.
Solis began as an implement company in 1969 in India before eventually graduating to manufacturing tractors in 1995.
"So as you can see we are a very young tractor company, just 27 years since its inception and now as we stand, we (are among the) top five tractor manufacturers in the world," said Solis senior vice president, Ashish Seligel, Delhi, India.
"Last year we manufactured and we sold about 151,000 tractors and this year the plan is to do 180,000-plus tractors."
The company's plant in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, is one of the biggest plants under one roof. It has a capacity of to produce 300,000 tractors annually, which would make it the largest tractor manufacturer in the world.
Fellow Indian manufacturer, Mahindra, sells about 200,000 tractors a year.
"When we started the company we had a joint venture from Renault Agriculture from France, which was eventually taken over by Claas and then they sold the stake of 12.5 per cent to Yanmar of Japan," Mr Seligel said.
By 2017, Yanmar increased its stake to 30pc, the other 70pc owned by the promoters, the Mittal family, a surname synonymous with tractors in India.
Yanmar was founded in Japan in 1912 and in Australia is perhaps better known for its pumps and diesel engines and is an "almost US$10 billion company with a diverse interest", Mr Seligel said.
What makes Solis unique is "we are trying to build a Japanese kind of a quality with an Indian kind of price", he said.
Solis tractors are now sold into 150 countries and in the 90 horsepower sector of markets like Germany, France and UK, the brand is now number one.
"And now we have partnered with PFG in Australia and we want to repeat the successes that we had in other markets and we have started well."
The company's Australian range spans from 16hp tractors to 120hp and also offers a range of narrow tractors for vineyard and orchard application.
The machines are assembled in India and shipped in containers, ready to drive off the docks on arrival.
PFG's agriculture division general manager, Doug Robinson, Melbourne, was at the company's factory in April.
"It's a very modern plant, a lot of equipment there and the logistics is amazing. They work six days a week pumping out 500 tractors a day. That's how they get to 151,000," he said.
"I've been to a lot of manufacturing plants around the world over my time and I was amazed to see not just the vastness of what was going on, but the technology in there - a lot of robotics.
"I watched a robot manufacture a gear in 90 seconds - it made a gear from nothing in 90 seconds (i.e. from a piece of steel with two robotic lathes).
"PFG used to import the Yanmar product as well, out of Japan, and that was probably, of all the tractors we did ... the most reliable, because their warranty rate was incredibly low. So to see Solis partner up now with Yanmar - to get that technology and quality at that respectable price - is what we're looking for."
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