Bobcat is entering the compact tractor market once more after discontinuing in 2013 in the aftermath of the financial crisis. First announced in September last year, the 15 new models ranging from 21 to 58 hp are commercially available at dealerships now.
James Crouch, Bobcat’s senior product manager for compact tractors, says Tier 4 emissions standards by the federal government doubled the price of their 25-hp-and-up engines. Without the funding to engineer compliant yet affordable regeneration techniques, the company chose to take a hiatus from the compact tractor market.
“We were selling them between about 2009 and 2013, right there in the aftermath of the housing crisis,” Crouch says, noting that because 95% of Bobcat’s business is vested in new housing, his company had to make a tough decision.
“There wasn’t a dedicated team to tractors at the time. They chose to cut it, and they made the right call,” he says. Now, the company is here to stay. “We have a team of 20 people dedicated to tractors.”
Bobcat bought the intellectual property for three of the five tractor “platforms” it’s selling, intending to build them in-house in the U.S. within seven to 10 years. Right now, the company imports the equipment from South Korea and assembles on a dedicated tractor line at its parent company’s Statesville, N.C., factory.
Every model has four-wheel drive, with the 1000 platform featuring a Category 1 limited three-point hitch while the other four have a standard Category 1 hitch for Bobcat drag-behind or PTO-powered attachments. Buyers can order either turf, industrial or agricultural tires.
“All of our front-end loaders have a standard Bobcat quick-attach connection, so you can hook up things from your skid steer to these machines if you want,” Crouch says. “We don’t recommend all of them because of size and weight, but just watch your capacities.”
Here’s a closer look at the five platforms:
1000 platform. Crouch says affordability is a priority in a market “we realize we’re late to” — that’s why Bobcat is offering its base subcompact platform, the CT1021, for $11,500. The CT stands for “compact tractor,” the 10 denotes the platform number, and the last two digits, 21, represent the horsepower of the model.
“With the subcompact, we’re going to be extremely cost effective against the leaders in the market,” he says. “As the machine gets bigger, it gets a little tight, but we’re still going to be competitive to the market leaders to try to get in and gain people’s trust.”
Bobcat also offers a 25-hp subcompact in the CT1025. There’s a 60-inch-wide drive-over mid-mower attachment available for this model that’s unique to the market. Both subcompact models have as little as a 8.3-foot turning radius, making them able to reach tight spaces. They can travel up to 10 mph.
2000 platform. The larger-profile compact tractors from Bobcat start with the 2000 models. The three models in that platform range from 25 to 40 hp. All are without a cab, using a foldable rollover protection arm instead.
Like the subcompacts, the 2000 models also have a 2,200-rpm mid-PTO for customers looking for using three attachments simultaneously. Twin pedals for forward and reverse make maneuvers quicker than single-pedal systems.
There are two transmission options for the cab-less 2000s: Either a three-range hydrostatic transmission or a 9-by-3 manual transmission. The CT2025 can go up to 9 mph and starts at $15,300, with higher price points for the two higher horsepower models. The CT2000s fit an FL8 front-end loader from Bobcat, while the CT1000s fit the smaller FL7.
2500 platform. 2500 compact tractors share the same large-profile chassis as CT2000s, though they also have enclosed cabs. Instead of having two transmission options, hydrostatic is the only choice. Couch considers the 2500 to be the premium option. It includes power steering.
The cab features heat and air, as well as an integrated joystick. It can travel up to 14 mph. The CT2535 costs $30,800, while the other model in the platform, CT2540, starts at $32,400. With cab options, Bobcat offers a deluxe three-point package with telescopic lower links and stabilizers, which are easier to connect and disconnect than fixed links. Bobcat’s FL8 front-end loader fits models from this platform.
4000 platform. The 4000 platform of compact tractors by Bobcat boasts a class-leading ground clearance for improved maneuverability in rough terrain. It also includes PTO cruise, which allows users to maintain a set rpm even as the tractor’s load conditions change.
Like Bobcat’s other compact tractors, the 4000 platform has a turning radius of as little as 8.6 feet. None of the four 4000 models ranging from 45 to 58 hp has a cab. The CT4045 starts at $23,900 and includes the option of either a manual or hydrostatic transmission. It can reach up to 17 mph in both forward and reverse. Bobcat’s FL9 front-end loader fits models from this platform.
5000 platform. The 5000 platform of Bobcat compact tractors has a larger turning radius compared to other Bobcat compact tractors, at as little as 9.8 feet, depending on model. Horsepower ranges from 45 to 58, and the chassis fits a Bobcat FL9 front-end loader.
5000 models include Bobcat’s electronic hydrostatic transmission, which requires little effort with foot contact to the pedal and also enables a “true” cruise control that sticks to a constant speed. Even when moving at a slope, operators don’t have to adjust the travel pedal. It can reach up to 17.5 mph in both forward and reverse. Prices for the CT5545 start at $35,900.
To see photos of the tractor models, check out the slideshow.