The 200,000th Claas tractor has rolled off the production line at its Le Mans facility in France, in the same year the company is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Claas acquired a majority stake in Renault Agriculture in March 2003, signalling its intention to move to becoming a full-line farm machinery manufacturer.
Within six months, the first tractors in the company's familiar 'seed green' range started to roll off the production line, just in time for their global debut at Agritechnica.
Initially manufacturing the Renault-based Celtis, Ares and Atles series, Claas immediately embarked on a major new product development program.
Claas designers were driven by a single-minded proposition to create the world's most productive, efficient and comfortable tractors.
CLAAS released its first series - the Axion 800 - just three years later. This was followed by the release of the Arion 600/500 series in 2007 and the Axion 900 series in 2011.
CLAAS now manufactures more than 35 different models spanning 75 to 530 horsepower across six series, including the Axion (205 to 445hp), Arion (90 to 205hp) and Axos (75 to 102hp) series manufactured at its Le Mans factory. This is in addition to the Xerion (462 to 653hp) series, which is manufactured at the company's headquarters in Harswinkle, Germany.
Each series features a distinctive, compact shape, long wheelbase and low centre of gravity for optimal stability; balanced weight distribution over the front and rear axles for optimal traction; a narrow waist for maximum steering lock and manoeuvrability; and a relatively high unladen weight to reduce the need for ballast.
The tractors have earned a string of international accolades for innovation, with the Axion 900 and Axion 800 both winning Machine of the Year awards at Agritechnica, Europe's largest agricultural technology exhibition.
In addition, the Axion 800 was named the 2014 Tractor of the Year and won an Industrie Forum Gold Award for excellence in automotive design.
In 2017, Axion 960 Terra Trac was awarded a silver medal for innovation at Agritechnica.
Most recently, a top-of-the-line Axion 960 won the most sustainable category of the 2021 Tractor of the Year awards.
Claas harvest centre product manager - Claas tractors, Shane Barratt, said this success drew on CLAAS' expertise across a wide range of its businesses, including crawler tracks, powertrain management, electronics and process technologies.
"The Claas power systems concept aims to optimise every component of the drive train - the engine, emissions control, transmission, drive assembly, PTO shaft, axle, hydraulics and management systems," he said.
"CLAAS identifies the best individual technological solution for each component and then combines it with its own expertise in drive train management to deliver the optimal combination of performance, efficiency and reliability.
"Each model is available with a wide range of options, including integrated front linkages, PTO, hydraulic sand operating systems, allowing producers and contractors to configure their tractor exactly to their requirements."
Mr Barratt said CLAAS tractors were unique when it came to operator comfort.
"All Axion and Arion models are fitted spacious, high visibility and ergonomically-designed cabins and unique, four-point adjustable cabin suspension as standard," he said.
"Our customers often tell that once you've driven a CLAAS tractor for a day, you'll never want to go back to driving an ordinary tractor."
CLAAS has invested heavily in its tractor research, development and manufacturing capabilities during the past two decades. These have included a major redevelopment of its tractor manufacturing facility at LeMans, France; the construction of a state-of-the-art testing and validation facility in Trangé, France; and the construction of a new transmission manufacturing plant in Paderborn, Germany.
Le Mans is recognised as one of most modern vehicle manufacturing sites in Europe, boasting state-of-the-art production processes, driverless transport systems, ergonomic workstations and advanced logistics management. It is capable of producing more than 60 different models at the same time, from low specification tractors right up to the advanced Axion 900 Terra Trac with Cemos machine optimisation technology. The site also hosts a new visitor centre modelled on the Claas Technoparc in Harsewinkel.
The Trangé research and development site is used to develop and assess the next generation of Claas tractors. Working around the clock, seven days a week, a team of more than 60 researchers comprehensively test engine, transmission, suspension, hydraulics and management systems under simulated working conditions.
Pre-production models undergo up to 40,000 hours of field-testing before commercialisation.