In the current part of our series, we are again moving to another continent. This time we will visit one of the traditional sales regions of the Czech brand, perhaps surprising for some, the Indian subcontinent.
The brand's operations in South Asia have a long tradition dating back to the 1960s, when thousands of ZETOR tractors began to be exported into India. Export cooperation was possible in then Czechoslovak Republic thanks to the Motokov export agency, which began to develop the sale of goods abroad on the basis of compensatory trade agreements, starting in 1950. Since the next decade, Motokov has focused on developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, in addition to exports to developed countries.
ZETOR tractors thus stood at the beginning of agricultural mechanization in less developed parts of the world and hence made a significant contribution to ensure sufficient food production for one of the most populous regions in the world. Czech machines have gained a reputation for their high reliability, simple operation and easy maintenance. In addition to this, they performed very well in difficult conditions of developing India. They had to cope with high temperatures, unprofessional handling and lack of maintenance.
In addition to export activities, Motokov also participated in the construction of assembly plants in several Indian cities. Since the early 1960s, it has been partnering with local producers in the form of licensing agreements or joint ventures. Due to its scope, the construction of tractor plants has become one of the largest engineering projects in the country at the time. The first example was an assembly plant built in collaboration with the Indian company Agro Industrial Corporation for ZETOR 2511 tractors in the states of Utar Pradesh and Harjana.
Over the following decades, cooperation with other local companies such as Hindustan Tractors developed, producing ZETOR Super 50, ZETOR 3011 and then ZETOR 5011 tractors under licensing agreements. This was followed by cooperation with the state-owned Hindustan Machine Tools, then India's largest machine tool manufacturer which produced ZETOR 2511 models under the HMT brand. The success of the tractors in 1976 brought an expansion of machine production with more powerful ZETOR 5911 and ZETOR 6711 models.
Between 1970 and 1990, some 60 000 tractors drove out from the gates of Indian factories. India is thus historically one of the 10 largest markets in the world for the ZETOR brand. Parts and components for machine assembly came partially from Czechoslovakia and partially were manufactured in local production plants. Many Czech experts also contributed to the development of local production. They have also supervised deliveries of components and the production process of tractors.
This year, it has been almost 60 years since ZETOR first entered the Indian market. Since 2014, it has been represented by ZETOR INDIA Pvt. Ltd. – a subsidiary based in Chandigarh in the north of India, historically a strong region for the brand. The goal of the subsidiary is the brand´s penetration of developing markets in the region of Asia and Africa. The latest success was entry of the brand into neighboring Bangladesh, where, as in other markets in the region, ZETOR GLOBAL RANGE tractor series are imported. These are easy-to-operate mechanical tractors designed for the needs of local farmers. Other successes of ZETOR INDIA certainly include entry into the equally important markets of Vietnam, Nepal, Kenya and Zambia.
Currently, ZETOR continues its historically very successful cooperation with local companies as the brand signed a memorandum of cooperation with VST Tillers Tractors Ltd., a traditional Indian tractor manufacturer at the beginning of this year. The goal of both companies is to develop a new tractor designed primarily for the Indian market. However, the effort is also to find ways to export the new machine to other developing countries in Africa and Asia.
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In the next instalment of our series, we move to another continent. We will look at how ZETOR tractors are doing in North America.