Diesel engine emissions regulations, known as Tier 4, have been forcing manufacturers like John Deere to bring new compact construction equipment to market. But according to John Deere officials, the equipment offers contractors much more than just emissions compliance.
Members of John Deere’s product marketing team hosted a media event at its corporate world headquarters in Moline, IL, June 17-19. Deere discussed and demonstrated its recently launched E-Series of compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders, along with its new G-Series of compact excavators including the 35G, ideal for landscaping settings, and the larger 50G and 60G.
More is worth more. The cost to manufacturers of meeting Tier 4 emissions requirements has been enormous. The end result, naturally, is higher-priced machines. But according to Gregg Zupancic, a product marketing manager for John Deere’s Construction & Forestry division, contractors don’t want to pay more for just emissions compliance. “You have to give them more,” Zupancic says, which is why Deere has focused on increasing power and performance levels, improving serviceability, and simplifying operation.
For example, the E Series of skid loaders and track loaders offers increased horsepower and rated operating capacity. Then, the ability to switch between the three commonly used control patterns (ISO, H, foot pedals) reduce operator training needs while giving contractors choices. “The E Series is all about giving customers a lot of choices,” Zupancic says.
New models range in price from roughly $30,000 to $90,000. But numerous optional features could add as much as another 30% to the final purchase price. Popular optional features on the E Series include Ride Control for a smoother ride, keyless start, and more than 100 attachments. Popular landscaping attachments include grapple rakes, roller levels, land plows, rotary cutters, rotary tillers and mulching heads, along with snow-removal attachments like blades, pushers and throwers.
Contractors’ top needs. Sam Norwood, Deere’s manager for Commercial Worksite Products, says that many of the features on the new E-Series and G-Series models are the direct result of customer feedback. “Our customers told us about their applications and needs, and we incorporated them into these new machines,” Norwood says.
Deere’s Customer Advocacy Groups, coupled with extensive survey efforts and focus group research, help Deere identify which things matter most to contractors such as landscapers. Up-time and operating costs have emerged as the definitively most important concerns. Thus, features that reduce fuel usage, extend oil service intervals, and overall simplify maintenance are greatly valued.
Dealer support is also important. The John Deere Commercial Worksite Products dealer network comprises a mix of ag/turf dealers and construction/forestry dealers. It all depends on which Deere dealer can best serve a given market area. Deere says contractors want a dealer within 30 miles. Thus far, Deere has been able to accommodate that request for 95% of its end-customers, according to Zupancic.