Editor at Large: Visiting Kioti’s 2023 Dealer Meeting and Exploring Its New Construction Equipment Lineup
Never turn down an invitation to a dealer meeting. If you like equipment, it’s a celebration of machines you shouldn’t miss. Once a year an equipment manufacturer invites representatives from its big dealer network to a cool locale (in this case Raleigh, N.C.) to showcase its machine portfolio, conduct educational sessions, talk business and then party. It’s a great combination of operating a farm full of equipment during the day and toasting to new friends at a surprise Trace Adkins concert later that night.
In November, I somehow got the coveted press invite to attend Kioti Tractor’s 2023 dealer meeting in the rolling hills and thick forests of central North Carolina. There were tons of new machines to explore from the global brand (diesel mowers, skid steers, track loaders, attachments, tractors) and loads of interesting dealers and product managers to meet and mingle. The event started at the Raleigh Convention Center with seminars, product inspections and a dealer’s lounge tradeshow before moving to an outdoor ride-n-drive at Phillips Farms of Cary, which is a massive family fun ag park that was turned into an operational playland. Dealers got to demo machines, talk with product experts, dine at food trucks, listen to live music, snag sweet swag and make important connections. Many folks brought their entire families to enjoy, and kids competed with parents to inspect Kioti’s growing line of compact machinery.
“The ride-n-drive is probably one of the favorite events for the dealers,” said Tim Phillips, national sales manager at Kioti Tractor, looking out over cornfields full of equipment. “We introduce new products, and the dealers have an opportunity to play in a real-world situation as you can see, whether it’s ground tillage or mowing or loader work. This year probably the compact construction equipment is creating the most buzz. Most of the dealers have had some opportunity to certainly see it and most to drive it, but that’s kind of the big thing, just because we’re opening up a new segment.”
At the end of 2023, Kioti entered the construction machinery sector with the launch of its TL750 compact track loader and SL750 skid steer, noting these machines are just as popular on farms and landscape jobs as construction and rental lots. These new loader tool carriers were the talk of the dealer meeting, and the descriptor I kept hearing from dealers was “quality.” Kioti is marketing these machines as robust, comfy and high-quality with everything you need is already standard — two-speed, LED lights, 14-pin electric connector, rearview camera, overhead sliding door — ensuring buyers won’t break the bank.
“We are priced very competitively within the industry,” said Justin Moe, product manager, construction division, Kioti Tractor. “I think our base price on a cab machine on the track loader right there is sitting around $72,000, with a bucket sitting around $75,000. That price will obviously change depending on all the options, but when I look across all the competitors and the rest of the industry, we’re priced very competitively.”
These two new loaders are creating buzz with more than just dealers. Even in the extremely busy skid steer and compact track loader sectors, Kioti’s excellent pricing, standard features and ag- and landscape-focused dealer network are raising eyebrows and interest with machine owners and operators. This maybe also has to do with the anticipation of the launch, which was first teased at Kioti’s 2021 dealer meeting during the pandemic. As these units are now finally on dealer lots, let’s see what the hype is all about.
Compact track loaders are the most popular category of compact equipment in America. Learn why with loads of track loader features right here.
The TL750 Track loader and SL750 Skid Steer
As the off-highway compact machinery market continues to expand, new brands continue to enter the market. Out of all the hot compact equipment sectors — from mini excavators to small articulated loaders — compact track loaders are maybe the most popular category of construction machinery in America. Just look how many brands are in the market (something like 15 or more), and lots of new brands are just entering the market. In 2023, big name companies like Yanmar, Hyundai and Develon (formerly Doosan) announced or teased their entrance (or reentrance in Hyundai’s case) into the skid steer and compact track loader markets. Kioti certainly sees the potential and the demand.
“We have guys that have had Kioti tractors for years using them for landscaping or small agriculture projects, and they’ve been talking: ‘Hey, we love the quality of the tractors, we love working with your dealers, when are you guys going to expand your portfolio? Because we’d like to buy a skid or a track loader from you,’” said Moe. “So going into those markets was a big push for us.”
Pushing into such a busy sector, Kioti will need to offer something unique.
“What differentiates us is we’re using some of those components we have from the tractors — like the engine — it’s been in our RX tractors for years,” said Moe. “It’s something our dealers are familiar with. Another differentiator, if you look over there, swing open radiator and our ability to lift up the cab for maintenance. We have easy access to everything in there — test ports for all of our hydraulics and our drive lines. It’s really easy serviceability for our techs. Another thing I would say is all the standard features we came out with on the machines. We have a cab and a canopy unit, and they’re both pretty loaded up with features. Standard rearview camera, LCD screen, float functions, self-leveling. There’s ride control on the skids. We’re coming out with ride control on the track loaders a little later.”
These units have roomy operator stations to work, with Kioti choosing to go with hydraulic pilot joystick controls vs. electric over hydraulic or EH controls. Pilot controls definitely offer that premium touch, feel and featherability. These pilot control joysticks also offer a ton of functionality with buttons and toggles that control everything from attachment rpm and two-speed to ride control and the horn. Each model comes with a sliding overhead door and a high back suspension seat. The optional enclosed cab offers HVAC to help increase comfort and reduce fatigue.
“With a cab package on the skids, you’ll get AC HVAC, radio and ride control,” noted Moe. “The cab machines also come with a hydraulic quick-attach, while the canopy units come standard with a manual quick-attach, but you can aftermarket install a hydraulic one if you’d like.”
Both the SL750 skid steer and TL750 compact track loader will be vertical-lift machines, great for lifting high and dumping into backs of trucks with a lift height 10.5 ft. As mentioned, both machines will utilize a 74-hp Kioti engine, proven over the years in the popular RX-Series tractors. When it comes to specs, the SL750 skid steer has an operating weight of 8,362 lbs, tipping load (50 percent) of 2,689 lbs and travel speeds from (low) 7.15 to (high) 12.95 mph. The TL750 track loader boasts an operating weight of 9,689 lbs, tipping load (35 percent) of 2,300 lbs and travel speeds from (low) 4.7 mph to (high) 7.1 mph. When it comes to auxiliary hydraulics, both units sport a standard flow up to 21.9 gpm with pressures up to 3,335 psi.
“Auxiliary flow is sitting at about 22 gallons per minute on this machine,” said Moe, “so it’s able to run a lot of your standard-flow attachments like today over at the cornfield we have a rotary cutter able to move through that corn just fine, even thicker stuff, getting to those thicker saplings. But I get questions on high flow. That’s somewhere we’re working on right now. I’m hoping we get that ready to start production at the end of 2024. We want to bump up that versatility for folks that want to do a little more like forestry and things like that. Speaking of forestry work, remember that rotary cutter machine out in the cornfield, we do have a plexiglass door. So, for those forestry guys, that’s extra shielding.”
Overall, these new loaders offer an interesting start to Kioti’s new construction division, but these two new units weren’t the only highlights of the 2023 Kioti dealer meeting.
Other Notable Announcements
One of the biggest to-dos of any dealer meeting is honoring dealers. At the 2023 Kioti Tractor dealer meeting, the company awarded 73 dealers across North America with 5-Paw status, achieved through the 2022 5-Paw Dealer Excellence Program, the company’s top customer experience honor. Launched 15 years ago, the 5-Paw Dealer Excellence Program recognizes exemplary Kioti dealers who provide top-quality buying experiences and premier service to their customers.
“We were up in retail sales and through market share in 2023,” said Phillips. “We all worked really hard to do that. The dealers worked really hard to accomplish that, but some of that new product has also helped for sure. Overall, we’ve had really positive momentum and trajectory.”
Kioti has around 500 dealers in North America, and around 400 of them were represented at the 2023 dealer meeting. These dealers had plenty of new product to explore in Raleigh. There was the new CK20 and DK20 Series utility tractors, incorporating new features for enhanced productivity, including integrated joystick controls, LED headlights and updated steel hoods. Select CK20SE Cab and DK20SE models arrive factory-prepped for the optional RPM Raise feature. With this feature, operators can temporarily increase to maximum engine rpms at the push of a button when lifting heavy loads and return to the preset rpms once completed, making tasks more efficient.
“The new CK20 and DK20 models build upon our tried-and-true equipment features to deliver enhanced productivity and performance,” said Joel Hicks, tractor product line manger for Kioti “We know operators perform tough jobs that require power and precision, so these new workhorses are designed with those needs top of mind.”
Kioti also showcased its new ZXD61 and ZXD71 — the company’s first-ever diesel mowers — and its new K9 2400 Cab utility vehicle. Considering the latter, the K9 2400 UTV boasts a factory-installed, climate-controlled cab, ensuring operators are equipped to combat the elements while tackling tough jobs. As with other models in the K9 Series, the K9 2400 Cab offers contemporary styling, enhanced ergonomics and an abundance of storage. Cool features include: a 24-hp, three-cylinder, Kioti diesel engine; selectable two- or four-wheel-drive options with limited slip front axle and mechanically actuated locking rear differential; payload capacity of 1,750 lbs; towing capacity of 1,300 lbs; all-steel cargo bed with spray-in bed liner; dump bed capacity of 1,102 lbs; ground clearance of 12.5 in.; and max travel speed of 31 mph.
“We’ve kept our customers’ needs top of mind with each addition to our UTV lineup. You see this most recently with the introduction of the K9 2400 Cab, which prioritizes comfort and durability,” said Steven Benedict, turf care product line manager at Kioti Tractor. “Whether the operator is a landowner hauling materials or a professional moving people and tools, our customers can trust their Kioti UTV is built to weather the toughest conditions.”
An Exciting 2024 Outlook
As buses rolled back and forth between Phillips Farms of Cary and the Raleigh Convention Center, it was clear dealers were excited to start selling Kioti machines and services. The blend of informative seminars, hands-on experience, outdoor demos, food, drink and entertainment provided a showcase of Kioti’s latest offering. Beyond the machines, the event fostered a sense of community among dealers, product managers and families, strengthening relationships and igniting enthusiasm for the brand’s future. As attendees departed, laden with memories, swag and new connections, it was clear that Kioti had not only launched some pretty innovative machinery but had also cultivated a vibrant and engaged dealer culture, ready to propel the company into an exciting new year. We’ll keep you updated on the brand’s progress throughout 2024 and beyond.