On the 23rd of February, Claas celebrated twenty years since the acquisition of a majority stake in Renault Agriculture, the tractor division of the Renault Group.
It meant that the harvesting and grassland company expanded its portfolio to a full system provider. Adding standard and specialist tractor models to complement the Xerion system tractor. The signing of the agreement took place on the eve of the SIMA show in Paris and generated a large amount of media coverage.
From the 1st of October that year, the Le Mans factory started to transfer over to the Claas colour scheme, with all models for new and emerging markets from the 1st of November featuring the seed green livery. At Agritechnica, Claas showcased a full line-up of products, including the latest tractor models.
Development for the Axion 800 large tractor range also started that year and was added to the portfolio three years later. Over time, the Renault Celtis, Ares and Atles ranges were rebranded as the Arion and Axion.
Throughout its tractor development, Claas has integrated several developments including the large CEBIS terminal; the Panoramic cabin for the Arion 400; telematics for fleet management; the Terra Trac track system and CEMOS, a self-learning operator assistance system.
In 2013, the company also broke records. The DLG Test Centre put the 416hp Axion 950 through its paces and measured a record-breaking pulling power of 242kW, making it the most powerful standard tractor. DLG PowerMix tests also showed a market-leading fuel consumption of 249g per kWh – 15.6% better than the average of all tractors tested.
Investment in production
Research and development have been key in the Claas tractor range, but since 2003 the company has also invested more than 80 million euros in the Le Mans plant. The largest of these was the Fourth Initiative, which was launched in 2020. The factory now features driverless transport systems and artificial intelligence, as well as a new visitor centre modelled after the Tecnoparc in Harsewinkel.
While the company produced its 150,000th tractor from the Le Mans plant in 2019, it’s expected to reach 200,000 machines this year. More than 60 different models are produced, and exported to 80 countries across the world, including North America since 2019.
Claas tractors – a timeline
- 23 February 2003: Claas signs agreement to purchase majority share of Renault Agriculture.
- 1 October 2003: Roll-out of the first Seed Green Claas standard tractors from Le Mans.
- 1 November 2003: All tractors now produced in Claas colours.
- 9 – 15 November 2003: Claas makes its first attendance at Agritechnica as a full system provider with a comprehensive tractor programme ranging from Celtis, Ares and Atles to Xerion.
- 2006: Launch of completely redeveloped Axion 800 series with Hexashift semi-powershift transmission and CEBIS terminal.
- 2007: New Arion 500 and 600 series rejuvenate the Le Mans tractor range. The Axion 800 is now available with a CMATIC continuously variable transmission as an alternative to the Hexashift powershift transmission.
- 2008: Acquisition of the Renault tractor division complete.
- 2008 – 2010: Installation of new cab pre-assembly and new paint shop.
- February 2011: Unveiling of the new Axion 900 large tractor series with CMOTION multifunction control lever at the SIMA in Paris.
- 2012: Launch of new Arion 500 and Arion 600 series.
- 2013: The Axion 950 sets a new pulling power record for standard tractors of 242 kW in front of the brake van, making it the world’s most powerful tractor.
- November 2013: Premiere of the Arion 500/600 CMATIC with EQ200 continuously variable transmission from Claas Industrietechnik.
- 2014: Launch of the new Arion 400 series with ground-breaking Panoramic cab.
- 2016: Claas joins forces with the trade journal traction to strip down a used Axion 920 to its individual parts to analyse the wearing patterns.
- November 2017: Agritechnica silver medal for two innovations: the Axion 900 Terra Trac and CEMOS for Tractors, the first self-learning, dialogue-based operator assistance and process optimisation system.
- Spring 2019: The 150,000th tractor rolls off the production line in Le Mans.
- From 2019: Modernisation of the factory focusing on the main assembly line, logistics and production management as part of the Claas Forth investment programme. The “factory of the future” officially opens in May 2021.
- 2021: The Axion 960 CMATIC with CEMOS designated Sustainable Tractor of the Year.
- September 2022: The new Central Academy opens in Le Mans.