Not since the launch of JCB’s mid-engined, four-wheel steering Loadalls over 30 years ago has a telehandler defied convention quite like Fendt’s debut Cargo T955.
Its hulking frame, high boom and wacky lifting cab offer owners serious capacity and the potentially useful party piece of being able to see deep into high-sided trailers.
But these luxuries come at a cost and the staggering £200,000 list price of a well-specced machine not only puts it beyond most of the firm’s tractor-buying customers – who themselves aren’t short of financial firepower – but almost out of farming reach altogether.
Instead, the company is heading to docks, straw sellers, AD plants, commercial grain stores and feed merchants, hoping to rack up enough sales to justify expanding the range with models that will appeal to regular farmers and contractors.
To dodge the multimillion-pound commitment in research and development, Fendt has taken the same low-risk route to market as most of its rivals by simply redressing an existing machine.
Agco stablemate Massey Ferguson did it with Bobcat, as did Claas – first with Kramer and, latterly, Liebherr.
It’s not without its risks, though, as John Deere found out at the start of the millennium with its ill-fated venture into telehandlers.
But while John Deere began on a sound footing using Matbro loaders with a strong UK following – albeit let down by a lack of global demand – Fendt has partnered up with little-known Sennebogen.
The Munich-based company specialises in building colossal 400t lifting rigs to shift dockside cargo and didn’t develop its own telehandler until 2003. Until now, it’s been nowhere near farming.
It doesn’t do small, either, so even the ‘dinkiest’ model in the range – the one Fendt is selling in the UK – weighs almost 12t, reaches to 8.5m and will lift 5.5t. That rules out any immediate involvement in the 7m, 3.5t sector that would dovetail neatly with most of its tractor customers.
Read more: Fendt’s debut Cargo T955 telehandler on test