The history of Zetor tractors dates back to the post-war era, a period of communist ideals. Since the first models were created - which means during the course of 65 years - they have been reliable companions and they have not ceased serving people even though the needs of the latter have been changing over decades.
The birth certificate of the first Zetor tractor (Z25) is dated March 15, 1946. On August 15, 1946, registered Zetor trademark has been issued by Czechoslovakian Chamber of Commerce. Just as everything ingenious, the trademark has originated simply: it is a transcription of the pronunciation of the letter "Z" in Czech alphabet; this letter was used in the emblem of Brno Ammunition Factory which was the birthplace of the first tractors. This transcription was put together with the last two letters of the word "tractor" and the future "ZETOR" trademark has come into existence!
Over the years active, Zetor tractors have made their way to about one hundred countries on five continents in more than 1.2 million pieces. This makes Zetor a truly international make. In some countries, like India for instance, the word Zetor has become synonymous for a tractor as such.
In 1954, the research and development basis for Zetor tractors was established. In this period, fields witnessed the coming of new and more powerful Zetor 30 which followed successful models Zetor 25 and 15. In 1956, a still new and sturdier model Zetor 50 Super with the engine power of 50 HP was constructed.
Ten years after the trademark had been established, Zetor 25 and Zetor 15 have already become widely popular. In addition, by that time Zetor Super P, a new caterpillar tractor, has made its way to the market as well. This model was introduced for the first time in 1956 at the second Czechoslovakian Engineering Trade Fair in Brno exhibition center.
A few years later, Zetor was the first in the world to introduce a progressive and unique conception of making use of unified items during construction, which means the possibility of using identical parts for different models, thus making both construction and service easier.
In 1960, Zetor 3011 was launched onto the market as the basic model of the revolutionary unified series - US I (U? I). Other models of this series followed - Zetor 2011 and 4011. With these models, a new numeric labeling for individual models was introduced with respect to different modifications.
The first two numerals told the estimated engine power in horse power (HP). The third numeral stood for: 1 - two-wheel drive, 2 - caterpillar tractor, 3 - wheel tractor with suspension, 4 - four-wheel drive.
The fourth numeral stood for: 1 - universal tractor, 2 - cultivating tractor, 3 - narrow axle track tractor, 4 - paddy field tractor, 5 - front drive axle tractor, 6 - semi-track tractor, 7 - tractor for foot-hill areas, 8 - tractor with a safety cab.
This decade witnessed a reaction to customers' requests for more engine power of the tractors. An estimated power was supposed to be within the range of 80 - 160 HP. In 1964, a new "Czechoslovakian-Polish Tractor Research Center" located in Zetor Brno was created to support the development of a more powerful tractor.
The concrete result of the research was new tractors of another unified series labeled US II. The 8011 model - the first one to be presented - was awarded several domestic and international prizes soon after it had been introduced. It employed a number of progressive technical solutions which were far from being common at that time and at the same time it employed outstanding design and the ergonomics of control.
From 1968, these tractors with the new label Crystal were gradually placed into serial production. A modern conception of construction of this series has become the milepost in tractor innovation. It was drawing great attention on international exhibitions of agriculture. To Zetor, the customers' needs have always been a priority therefore some of Zetor staff were travelling on a Zetor bus to visit Zetor sellers as well as farmers through the whole of Europe to make sure that Zetor tractors were reliable in their work everywhere.
On November 1, 1976 the world-famous Zetor trademark became the name of the company, which means that 2011 is the 35th anniversary year for the manufacturing plant in Brno - Líše?.
In this period, Zetor continued to develop tractors of US II. In 1975, the first six-cylinder 12011 model was launched onto the market.
At the end of 1970s, a gradual transfer of production to Slovakian "Heavy Industry Plants" (Z?S) in Martin started. There, the models were innovated and produced under the label of Z?S. In Slovakia, three further innovations to the models followed. At that time, the transfer was a political decision which aimed to support industry employment in a relatively poor agricultural region at the outskirts of Slovakia.
Unified series US I was also being modernized and innovated.
After transferring production of US II Crystal to Slovakia, US I again became the most important production assortment of Zetor company. The tractors had a robust but comfortable safety cab, more engine power with smaller fuel consumption and improved gear-boxes with a wider range of gears. The color of the painting changed as well - wheel rims were newly painted white instead of red and the car body changed from beige to dark green.
In this period, Zetor launched production of tractors of US III whose conception and technical details matched the growing demands and expectations of customers. In 1992, shortly after launching production of this unified series, innovated tractors of US I appeared on the market under the trade name Major. The modified series offered more engine power, reliability and comfort for the driver including a spacious cab. The engine power was within the range of 52-82 HP.
In 1997, five updated models introduce a dramatic construction change to the US I series. The tractors with the trade name Super are powered with three-cylinder and four-cylinder engines with the power between 45 and 82 HP. They are available in 2WD or 4WD makes. Rounded wings typical of the 1950s are re-introduced as well as rounded car body which is inclined to the front for better view from the cab. All models of Super tractor are also available in makes without a cab. Other changes included improved hydraulics, new modern solution of the cab with ergonomically located controls including side shifting, higher speed (40 KPH) and a wider choice of equipment.
In this decade, Zetor has experienced many changes. On July 1, 1993 the company has been privatized and its name was changed into Zetor, a.s.
In 2000, a project for revitalization has been adopted and on April 22, 2002, the Government of the Czech Republic approved of selling the share of the state to HTC Holding company which, on June 29, 2002, became the owner of 98 % of Zetor company. Immediately, HTC Holding started a financial stabilization of the company together with a massive restructuring. The crucial project which aimed at reducing the number of warehouses, creating a modern assembly area with effective control and cost saving has been successfully accomplished. The Research and Development Department has been kept. Its responsibility is to continue to secure complex development of new and modernized products - from elaborating documentation of construction and production of prototypes to testing them, including homologation.
In this period, the development and innovation of US I continued, mainly with respect to more restrictive regulations on protection of the environment on developed markets. Previous models of this series have been replaced by modern tractors of US I which observe more restrictive emission limits and which still form Zetor's main sales program at present. They are known under the name Proxima.
Development of US III has not stopped either. The tractors of this series were modernized significantly and in 1998 launched onto the market under the trade name Forterra. Tractors of the Proxima and Forterra series have been awarded many prestigious prizes on well-known trade fairs and competitions.
In recent years, Zetor has presented many innovations and improvements.
In 2007, the assortment was enriched by the Proxima Plus series which is equipped with front and rear axles suitable for heavy load. A new feature was employed: a tilt hood which secures easy access to oil, fuel and air filters.
At the end of 2008, Proxima Power tractor was launched in three new four-cylinder models which are equipped with an interesting innovation - gear-box with electrohydraulic reverse shifting which makes it possible to change the direction of motion when under load.
At present, model 135 with new Z 1605 engine with the power of 136 HP with 16-valve cylinder head is the newest member of the Forterra series. The engines of the whole series have been homologated for STAGE III. The new model Forterra series is distinctive also in its outer appearance and adjustments of the interior. A significant change is a tilt hood of a fresh new design. In its style, it is similar to Proxima tractors, it is of a square profile and it has identical round headlights. The inside of the cab employs a hydraulics control panel with alternative bowden control covers of additional distributor.
In 2011, Zetor is offering further adjustments of tractors of the Proxima, Proxima Plus and Proxima Power series under the name Model 2011. The difference in number labeling of the makes (with zero being the last numeral) can be spotted at the first sight - the first two numerals stand for the engine power in HP following the ISO 14396 regulation (without accessories). The main innovation lies in new mechanical hydraulics with the tie rod of the third point regulation by Italian Mita company. The biggest difference from the Zetor hydraulics offered so far is the non-presence of inner cylinder. Position of all the main features has also been changed. The main functions of mechanical Mita hydraulics are controlled with two levers located on the right side of the cab. With respect to implementing new controls, the interior of the cab has been improved as well. The wiring includes digital dashboard in the Proxima series. The innovations in all Proxima series also include: waterproofing of all important bundle connecters, rear window defroster or heating of rear mirrors.
In the past, Zetor was traditionally a producer of six-valve engines in the category of 120-160 HP. A return to a series with more engine power with a focus on the 130-170 HP category is now being planned. In 2009, a prototype of Maxterra tractor, which is a materialization of this vision, was presented to experts on Agritechnica exhibition in Hannover.