This is a major milestone for the company that pioneered the concept of mini-excavators in the UK in 1979. Back then, with no products of this kind on the market, there was some serious scepticism about the introduction of mini-excavators and the value they could provide to building projects. In fact, just 41 Kubota machines were sold in 1979, with one of the first being the classic KH10 mini-excavator model, a machine that can still be found working 37 years later.
Pictured below is the very first model to come off the production line in Japan.
And this is the second model to reach these shores, the KH18L, which arrived in 1981.
It really doesn't look so mini by current stanards, does it?!
As we all know, the popularity of mini-excavators has gone from strength-to-strength with all sorts of competing brands entering the sector. However, Kubota still claims the number one position as market leader.
Kubota sees its history in this sector as a real success story, with momentum continuing to grow year-on-year. After the 41 Kubota machines were sold in year one (1979), it took five years for Kubota to reach 1,000 machines in 1984. By 1988, annual sales had increased to 1,000. In 1998, approximately 20 years since the concept was first introduced, Kubota sold its 10,000th machine within the British and Irish market. This exponential trend continued into the new millennium, with 25,000 Kubota mini-excavators sold by 2006.
Here's a picture postcard shot of a KH20L and KH28L working together on the island of Barra in the outer Hebrides:
Here's a K8 on grave digging duty in 1982:
And here's a KH90 seen in 1989. The information supplied says it is 'on site' but that looks suspicously like a trade show in the background to me:
Over the last 10 years, growth has been phenomenal, with Kubota reaching the 50,000 landmark following a stellar 2015 for the firm, setting new records in terms of volumes and market share for the third consecutive year.
While the name Kubota remains firmly associated with mini-excavators, the brand was extended in 2015 with the launch of new ranges of wheeled loaders and tracked carriers.
The 50,000th machine has been identified as a K008-3 micro excavator (as pictured above), which has been delivered to Hawes Plant & Tool Hire, one of Kubota’s longest standing construction customers, via dealer Boss Plant. Roy Hawes, now in his 70s, still remembers his first Kubota: “I was amazed with how well the Kubota performed. I knew straight away that there would be a market for these mini-excavators, despite what others were telling me that the compact machines were not able to operate in the toughest of conditions or be effective within larger projects,” he says.
“I knew instantly that Kubota machines were high quality and for the work I was doing back then, the KH10 fitted the bill perfectly,” he continues. “Kubota has continued to push the limits of the mini-excavator ever since, which is why it still leads the market.”
Kubota is marking the sales landmark by exhibiting its original Kubota KH10 model at the Hillhead show in June, where it will be positioned next to a ‘special edition’ gold painted KX-71 machine, considered to be a modern day equivalent in terms of size and power to the original KH10. This gold-digger, pictured at the top here, is being donated to the Lighthouse Club for auction at its summer ball.
Kubota UK managing director Dave Roberts says: “It is quite remarkable to consider the journey Kubota has been on to reach this 50,000 excavator sales milestone. It was not plain sailing in the early years, quite the contrary, but now the results are there for all to see.
“This significant achievement is testament to the market leading build, performance and reliability of the Kubota machines. Another major part of our success is thanks to our extensive network of independent dealers, who ensure Kubota has strong local presence in each specific territory within the UK and Ireland, which is essential to our sales strategy.”