UK plant commemorates six decades of production with special edition tractor

  • New Holland’s UK manufacturing facility marks 60 years of making tractors for global markets
  • Celebration edition T7.300 tractor unveiled
  • Development of Alternative Fuels Centre of Excellence is latest stage of continuous investment since opening of factory complex in 1964

New Holland is celebrating 60 years since the opening of its tractor factory in Basildon, England, with the unveiling of a celebration edition tractor and the strengthening of the plant’s role as the brand’s Alternative Fuels Centre of Excellence, alongside its position as its global tractor production facility.

The Basildon plant was developed on a greenfield site in the early 1960s by Ford, whose tractor and farm equipment business was later purchased by Fiat. Seeking to modernise the production processes possible at its existing car and tractor plant at nearby Dagenham, the company was encouraged to develop a dedicated tractor facility in the new town of Basildon. Work began on April 2, 1960, and was completed on February 29, 1964. The opening of the factory, with its distinctive 38m (125ft) ‘onion’ water tower and 414,528m2 (1,360,000 sq ft) footprint on a 40ha (100ac) site, coincided with the launch of the 37-65hp Ford 6X tractor series made there, comprising the 2000 Dexta, 3000 Super Dexta, 4000 Major and 5000 Super Major, later to be known generally as the ‘Pre-Force’ models following the 1968 launch of the ‘Ford Force’ 2/3/4/5000 tractors.

Later significant product introductions would include the 7A1 ‘600 series’ tractors in 1975, from the 2600 to the 7600, and the similar ‘7A2’ versions with the new quiet ‘Q cab’ the following year. In 1981, these tractors were updated to ‘Series 10’ specification, with later Force II (1986) and Generation III (1989) evolutions. Late 1991 saw the launch of the all-new 40 series, a range that would later be sold with new branding when Fiat purchased the Ford New Holland agricultural equipment business that year and adopted New Holland as its brand for the future. Subsequently the plant produced New Holland TS, TM, T6000 and T7000 tractor lines, and today manufactures the T6 and T7 ranges, spanning 125-300hp. In 2012, a new visitor centre was opened at Basildon, and the same year the plant was awarded Bronze World Class Manufacturing status, underlining the quality of its processes.

Today, a complete tractor rolls off the Basildon assembly line every five minutes, with over 10,000 different product specifications, ensuring buyers across the world – 85% of production is exported – get exactly the tractor they need.

To mark the Basildon plant’s 60th birthday, maintaining a tradition that began with the Silver Jubilee 7810 of 1989 and continued with the Golden Jubilee T6.180 and T7.270 tractors of 2014, New Holland has unveiled a celebration edition T7.300 tractor. The graphics that adorn it celebrate the era in which the Basildon factory was founded, taking inspiration from the 1960s decade which saw so many leaps forward in technological advancement. Created by CNH Centro Stile, the anniversary edition’s livery is inspired by the colours and patterns of ‘Swinging ‘60s’ London, with psychedelic shapes characterized by vivid and fluid colours of blue, yellow, maroon and pink around New Holland’s distinctive leaf logo in bright yellow on the hood. The tractor, of which only one unit will be produced, will be unveiled at the Basildon 60th anniversary celebratory event on April 9, and then showcased at exhibitions throughout 2024.

The latest developments at Basildon include significant investment in its role as the New Holland Alternative Fuels Centre of Excellence. In 2006, the firm declared its ambition to be the ‘Clean Energy Leader’ in the tractor sector, and in 2021 put into production at Basildon the industry’s first tractor of its type, the T6.180 Methane Power LNG, to be joined later this year by the T7.270 Methane Power CNG. These developments make possible the Energy Independent Farm, allowing biomethane captured from waste farming products such as livestock manures to be used as fuel.

“We are proud to celebrate 60 years of our plant in Basildon, that well represents the evolution of the New Holland brand, from a manufacturer of agricultural machinery to a company that advances sophisticated software technology for agriculture, fostering the brand leadership on a global level. Today Basildon is a hub for innovation, where we produce tractors that are exported worldwide, and a Centre of Excellence for Alternative Fuels, where our T6.180 Methane Power tractor is produced,” says Carlo Lambro, New Holland Brand President. “As the only volume tractor producer in the UK, we are also very proud of our workforce here, with their skills, dedication and commitment. It’s a milestone for the whole company and for everyone who works or has worked in the plant.

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