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One line, two brands?

Kubota and Versatile partner up to build a tractor

It’s been no secret that Winnipeg-based Versatile has had a new tractor line in development for the past several years. But maybe there’s more you need to know.

Versatile has long been thought of as a producer of high-horsepower tractors. Historically, though, it has had a presence in a lower horsepower class with production of what was initially the model 150, that evolved into the 256, and later the 9030, a unique articulated tractor that landed in the utility and mid-range segments.

Earlier this spring, Versatile announced that the new tractor line it’s been working on is designed to give the company a place in those horsepower classes again.

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Known as Nemesis, the new line will give the brand a presence in the 175- to 210-horsepower range.

But while the introduction of the Nemesis tractors signals that Versatile wants to have a larger footprint in the overall tractor market, which is news in itself, another important and arguably surprising part of this story is that these models are expected to also be available from your local Kubota dealer — wearing Kubota orange paint and name badges.

The news release from Versatile officially announcing the introduction of the Nemesis line came at exactly the same moment Kubota announced it was partnering with Versatile to offer its customers a new line of tractors that picks up where the current M7-2 line leaves off, which is at 170 horsepower. So Versatile’s Nemesis line seems to fit Kubota perfectly.

However, Kubota’s press release was intentionally light on specifics, according to Yannick Montagano, Kubota’s vice-president of sales and marketing. The orange brand is holding any announcement of specifications back until it has an official product launch sometime in the second half of this year.

Versatile adds that it plans to eventually expand the Nemesis line to 250 horsepower.
photo: Versatile

While the seemingly inescapable conclusion is that Versatile’s Nemesis tractors will be the basis of the new Kubota models, that remains only an assumption everyone in the industry is making, according to Adam Reid, Versatile’s vice-president of sales and marketing, because while both brands have acknowledged the joint OEM agreement, neither will yet officially give any exact specs on the Kubotas. So, we’ll still have to wait for Kubota to officially confirm or deny that later this year. All we know for sure now is the Kubota tractors will be built in Winnipeg by Versatile.

This is not the first time the Winnipeg plant has had an OEM agreement to build tractors for other brands, however. More than a few Challenger tracked tractors rolled off the assembly line there over the years.

When it comes to the tractors that will wear Versatile colours, we now know the Nemesis line will have Cummins Stage V compliant QSB 6.7L diesels under the hood. And they’ll be connected to a German-built ZF powershift transmission. Versatile has been powering its tractors with Cummins diesels for about five decades, so that isn’t a surprise.

When they begin arriving on dealers’ lots later this summer, the three Nemesis tractor models will be available with horsepower ratings that include 175, 195, and 210.

Versatile adds that it plans to eventually expand the Nemesis line — at least those wearing its own name badges — to 250 horsepower, and that the bigger models will also use ZF’s transmission. Eventually CVT models will be available in the Nemesis line, too.

The Nemesis tractors will be available with a front-end loader that features a quick-detach system and is controlled by an electric joystick. When in use, the front-end loader functions are displayed on a 10-inch monitor.

The new styling of the Nemesis tractors, including the cab interior layout, will set the trend for other Versatile tractor models and equipment when they see updates in the future.

And it will all come together very soon. Nemesis tractor production is underway now.

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