Twenty years of tractors from Le Mans

  • Exactly 20 years ago, on 23 February 2003, Helmut Claas signed the agreement to acquire a majority stake in Renault Agriculture, the tractor division of the Renault Group
  • Since then, CLAAS has gradually consolidated its position as a full system provider on the international stage and invested in efficiency- and productivity-boosting innovations along with state-of-the-art production processes

The 23 February 2003 signalled a reshuffling of the cards in the global agricultural machinery sector. Having acquired a majority stake in Renault Agriculture followed by its complete acquisition in 2008, CLAAS graduated from harvesting equipment specialist to full system provider – adding standard and specialist tractors to its product range to seamlessly complement the flagship XERION built in Harsewinkel.

The signing of the agreement between Helmut Claas and Renault S.A board member Patrick Faure on the eve of the SIMA tradeshow in Paris generated a significant amount of media coverage following its announcement. By the end of April, the staged acquisition had been approved by the Cartel Office.

From 1 October the factory in Le Mans began switching the colour scheme from Renault Orange to Seed Green and from 1 November 2003 all models for new and emerging markets rolled off the assembly line in CLAAS corporate colours. With the product range now complete, CLAAS was able to display a “full line-up of modern products” at Agritechnica 2003. In addition to the standard and specialist tractors, this included the LEXION 500, the COUGAR self-propelled mower and the latest generation XERION.

While the 150,000th CLAAS standard tractor left the Le Mans factory in spring 2019, the 200,000 mark is expected to be reached in the 20th anniversary year. Today CLAAS Tractor in Le Mans produces more than 60 different models from 75 to 445 hp, from simple tractors for markets with less stringent emissions standards such as Turkmenistan or Africa to the high-volume ARION 400 mainly for the European market and the AXION 900 TERRA TRAC high-tech large tractor for the global market. Today the Le Mans factory exports tractors to 80 countries around the world, including North America as of 2019.