For those interested in statistics, the Keller brothers built seven loaders in 1957-58. In 1958-59, some 18 M60 Melroe loaders were built. Another 400 M200 Melroe loaders were built in 1959-60.
And of the world’s first skid-steer loader, the M400, there were 200 built from 1960 to 1962.
1962 marks the introduction of the M440 -- the first Bobcat-branded loader, white with red trim -- and two years later celebrates its 1000th loader. By 1969 the company builds its 10,000th loader.
Another decade later (1980) the company reaches its 100,000th loader milestone. In two more decades (2001), it hits the 500,000-loader mark. The growth was skyrocketing, and by 2008 the company celebrated number 750,000. Then in 2014 it hits the 1,000,000 loader milestone. Whew!
Over the course of six decades, from the first three-wheeled loader to today, there has been -- on average -- one Bobcat loader built every thirty minutes, every day, every week, every year.
However, since the 50th anniversary and 750,000th loader celebration in 2008, the pace is even more impressive: one loader built every 12.5 minutes!
Full History of Bobcat
M200 is the second design of the Melroe self-propelled loader, with a 12.9 hp Onan engine. The lift arms are again redesigned, giving the loader 750 lb. rated capacity -- 400 are built.
The Melroe brothers invite the Kellers to demonstrate their loader at the Melroe farm equipment exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair. The loader is an instant hit, and before the fair was over the Melroes invited the Kellers to join them. After reaching a royalty agreement on their clutch drive design, the Kellers are hired to design a new loader and bring it to production at Melroe Manufacturing Company in Gwinner, North Dakota.
M60 Melroe self-propelled loader is an improved version of the Keller loader with a larger 9 hp engine and improved lift arm geometry, sometimes called the “grasshopper boom” design -- 17 are built.
Keller Loader, the first three-wheeled loader built by brothers Louis and Cyril Keller for Eddie Velo, a turkey farmer whose barns needed cleaning. The Keller Loader has a rear caster wheel and two drive wheels with an innovative clutch drive mechanism and is powered by a 6 hp Kohler engine. The Keller brothers build six more loaders at their Rothsay, Minnesota, machine shop before being introduced to the Melroe brothers in 1958.
825 Bobcat, with a rated capacity of 1,500 lb., continues the trend toward larger, diesel-powered machines. It is discontinued in 1983, replaced by the new B-Series 843.
1074 Bobcat feller buncher, a tree-harvesting machine with a shear attachment that can cut, bunch and transport trees. Over the next decade, several different models are built -- including the 1080 and an innovative six-wheel drive model 1213 -- but the product line is discontinued in 1987.
M610, with a Wisconsin gas engine and 1,000 lb. rated capacity, will remain the most popular Bobcat model for the next decade. When the last M610 rolls off the assembly line in 1982, it signifies the end of the clutch-drive loader and the transition to diesel powered equipment.
Cyril Keller demonstrates the loader, which was developed in secret by his brother, Louis. It is introduced the following year with an overhead guard (or ROPS) and given the model designation M371, powered by a 14 hp Kohler engine.
M600 has a Wisconsin VF4D gas engine. It is built until 1975. A vertical forklift mast option makes it popular with bricklayers.
M500 delivered more power with a 24 hp Kohler K662 gas engine.
M500E is adapted with a 10 hp electric motor, allowing grain elevators to use the loader inside boxcars and in other dusty environments. A retracting cable reel allows the machine to work within a radius of about 50 ft.
M444 replaces the M440 less than a year later, with the addition of pressure-oiled clutches for better durability.
M440 is the first Bobcat-branded skid-steer loader. With a 15.5 hp Kohler 2-cylinder engine, it has a rated capacity of 1100 lb. It is a totally new design, with the drive system enclosed in side tanks that feature an oil bath for lubrication. The design change allows the operator to enter the loader from the front.
M400 is adapted from the M200 by adding a rear axle. With four-wheel drive, it is the world’s first skid-steer loader. Some 200 M400s are built. What makes the skid-steer unique is the use of two independent transmissions that allow it to turn in its tracks. The new loader is 6 inches longer than the M200 and – with some tweaking – will eventually achieve a 70-30 front to rear weight ratio for optimal skid-steer performance.
873 marked the transition of the larger frame size loader to vertical lift path.
Long wheelbase 753L (later renamed 763) gains a bit of lift capacity by increasing the distance between the front and rear axles without sacrificing its characteristic skid-steer maneuverability.
7753 is the first of the Bobcat vertical lift path loaders that would revolutionize the line. Its vertical path boosts lift capacity without increasing machine weight. These new loaders are called ideal “lift-and-carry” machines.
Next Generation “50 Series” 753 and 853 models introduced, with an innovative electronic monitoring and diagnostic system called “BOSS,” a dual path cooling system, protected axle bearings and a single tilt cylinder.
943 is the second Bobcat loader with the engine mounted transversely, allowing the hydrostatic drive pumps to be belt-driven for more efficiency, lower noise and easier service access for routine maintenance. This transverse engine design is repeated on succeeding loader generations and continues today.
After the early 1980s recession, company management makes a conscious effort to keep from raising prices on its Bobcat loader line. The strategy lasts 10 years and, much to the dismay of competitors is touted in ads saying, “Still at 1983 Pricing.” As a result, the skid-steer loader becomes a cost-effective solution of choice across many industries, unseating the once-popular tractor loader backhoe.
440 and 443 are the first to have a transversely mounted engine. The newest Mini-Bobs replace the 310 and 313 and are still 3 ft wide and 6 ft tall.
Articulated loader, called “the Bobcat that bends in the middle,” diversifies the loader lineup. A rough-terrain forklift version -- the 2000RTF -- is introduced a year later. The market for articulated loaders doesn’t grow as expected and the line is discontinued in 1995.
40 Series Bobcat 743 launches and quickly becomes the world’s most popular skid-steer loader. At its peak in the late 1980s, the production of the diesel-powered 743 represents half of all Bobcat loader factory output. The 40 Series loaders are the first to incorporate the new Seat Bar operator safety system. Other 40 Series models include the 540, 542 and 543; the 641, 642 and 643; the 741, 742 and 743; and the 843.
New Breed 30 Series launches, including models 530, 533, 630, 631 and 632 with gas and diesel, air- and liquid-cooled engines. A major product feature is its center-mounted chaincase with drive chains in a “bowtie” configuration, which eliminates adjustments, a highly touted competitive advantage. Models 730, 731, 732 arrive the next year.
The new “Bauhaus” Bobcat logotype is unveiled with the cathead symbol that is still used today.
520 is the first of the “B-Series” design, a complete makeover of the Bobcat loader line. The goal was to make many components -- operator cabin and ROPS, seat, steering levers, pedals and tailgate -- interchangeable among several frame sizes. Such design standardization will allow more efficient mass production of the Bobcat loader in the Gwinner factory.
The S595 skid-steer loader has the highest rated operating capacity (ROC) of any of the 500-series loaders in its lineup by boasting a 2,200-pound ROC. Operators can move more material in a shorter amount of time and get more work done in the same amount of time for increased productivity with the 74-horsepower skid-steer loader.
New 700- and 800-frame-size loaders are released. The S750, S770 and S850 skid-steer loaders are now manufactured with a Tier 4-compliant, Bobcat 3.4-liter diesel engine that do not require a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
The S740 skid-steer loader is added to the 700 frame-size loader family. It boasts the highest rated operating capacity in the under 75-horsepower skid-steer loader class and doesn’t require a diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) or diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).
Tier 4 S630 and S650 skid-steer loaders set the pace for greater productivity due to their enhancements in operator comfort, hydraulic power and easier serviceability.
First-ever Bobcat-branded Tier 4 engine is used in the 500 and 600 frame sizes in 2014. The new engines, ranging from 49 to 74 hp, are designed to significantly reduce the amount of particulate matter created in the combustion chamber, achieving Tier 4 EPA emissions compliance without using a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
500 M-Series frame size introduced. Six models were offered, with operating capacities ranging from 1650 lb. (model S510) to 2100 lb. (model S590), and engines rated at 49 hp (models S510, S530), 61 hp (models S550 and S570) and 66 hp (model S590).
Vertical lift path S750 and S770 models fill in the lineup, with 3,200 lb. and 3,350 lb. capacity.
A770 all-wheel steer (AWS) loader replaces the A300. AWS offers both low impact all-wheel steer and maneuverable skid-steer operation at the flip of a switch. With the new 700 frame size and M-Series features, the A770 has a rated capacity of 3,325 lb.
S850 regains the “world’s largest” title with a rated capacity of 3,950 lb., lift height of 12 feet, and 92 hp diesel engine.
M-Series kicks off another complete remake of the loader line. The first to be introduced are the S650 (vertical lift path) and S630 (radius path). The distinctive “cab-forward” design moves the operator closer to the work, giving better visibility of the attachment and all around the loader. It offers easier entry and exit, a sealed and pressurized operator cab for a clean working environment, better lighting and the latest electronic instrumentation.
The S595 skid-steer loader has the highest-rated operating capacity (ROC) of any of the 500-series loaders in its lineup by boasting a 2,200-pound ROC. Operators can move more material in a shorter amount of time and get more work done in the same amount of time for increased productivity with the 74-horsepower skid-steer loader.
T320 meets market demand for a larger, more powerful track loader with a 92 hp engine. It is the first model to offer the Roller Suspension™ system, which provides a smoother, more comfortable ride.
T140 added to the lineup, based on the S130 skid-steer frame size.
MT55 mini-track loader is a “wide track” version of the MT52, but with 25 hp engine and 550 lb. capacity. It measures 44 in. wide, with a narrow track option of 36 in.
MT52 mini-track loader updates the MT50 with numerous improvements, including an all-new operator console and a new operator safety system. Most noticeably, the MT52 has an optional ride-on platform, removable for walk-behind operation. The new loader has 520 lb. capacity, a 20 hp engine, and measures less than 36 in. wide.
Compact track loader lineup grows to include the radius lift path T180 and T250 models, built on mainframes of the S160 and S220 skid-steers.
T300 is built on the mainframe of the S300 skid-steer loader, signaling the end of the T200 model. It has a rated capacity of 3,000 lb. and 81 hp engine.
T190 is the second model size in the Bobcat compact track loader line. It uses the mainframe of the vertical path 773/S185 skid-steer loader and features the popular G-Series operator cab. The vertical lift arm configuration gives the T190 more capacity (1900 lb. at 35% of tip capacity), relative to its smaller frame size, a benefit many customers prefer for tight quarters operation.
864 is re-badged as the T200.
Bobcat enters the compact track loader (CTL) business. Using the mainframe, lift arms and cab of an 863 skid-steer, the new model 864 has a solid track undercarriage for durability. Rubber tracks give the CTL great flotation (i.e., low ground pressure) and superior traction, making it an instant success. It extends the construction season by allowing operators onto a jobsite sooner and working later in the year. In time, there will be a Bobcat® track loader counterpart for almost every skid-steer loader size. It is a game-changer for Bobcat and the industry.
Bobcat Company releases its first Tier 4 600 frame-size loaders – the T630 and T650 compact track loaders. The 600-platform, 74-horsepower loaders set the pace for greater productivity due to their enhancements in operator comfort, hydraulic power and easier serviceability.
First-ever Bobcat-branded Tier 4 engine is used on the 500 size compact track loaders and the 600 size the following year. The engine is designed to significantly reduce the amount of particulate matter created in the combustion chamber. It achieves Tier 4 emissions compliance without using a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
T550 (radius path) and T590 (vertical path) filled in the 500 frame size -- the heart of the line -- with 1,995 lb. and 2,100 lb. capacity, respectively.
T750 (85 hp turbo) and T770 (92 hp turbo), both with vertical lift path and 11 foot lift height, fill in the 700 frame size with 3,325 lb. and 3,475 lb. capacity, respectively.
T870 is the largest of the Bobcat track loader models, with a rated capacity of 3,525 lb. and a lift height of 12 feet. It is powered by a 99 hp diesel engine. The Roller Suspension track undercarriage is offered as standard equipment.
M-Series kicks off with the T650 (vertical lift path) and T630 (radius path) compact track loaders. The T630 features 2,230 lb. rated capacity, the T650 with 2570 lb., and both used the same 74 hp engine. M-Series features include a distinctive “cab-forward” design that moves the operator closer to the work, giving better visibility of the attachment and all around the loader. It offers easier entry and exit, a sealed and pressurized operator cab for a clean working environment, better lighting, and the latest electronic instrumentation.
418 becomes the smallest Bobcat excavator model, with a 1.8 m digging depth. The zero tail swing model had a hydraulically retractable undercarriage, measuring just 28 in. retracted.
425 extends the 400 range downward with a 2.5 m excavator and the increasingly popular Zero Tail Swing feature.
The next generation G-Series compact excavators are the first in the industry to offer factory air conditioning, much like the now-popular option on Bobcat loaders. Long arm options are plentiful, with 323, 325/328 long-arm, 331/334 long-arm, 337/341 long-arm, and the extendable arm 331E.
400 G-Series Bobcat excavators launch with a rounded styling, improved hydraulics, roomier cab and a zero house swing (ZHS) feature that keep the tail of the excavator within the width of the track undercarriage. The 430 ZHS and 435 ZHS models are ideal for foundation work.
A new design focus shows up in the D-Series excavators. They were designed for manufacturability, to reduce cost and reflect the needs of excavator owners. The D-Series models feature a wide, swing-open rear tailgate, offering exceptional engine serviceability and easy side access to the hydraulics. The new models also have new instrumentation with monitoring, keyless start and automatic shutdown protection.
Bobcat's attachment focus is reflected in the innovative X-Change system. For the first time, operators have fingertip auxiliary control for hydraulic attachments. Advertising and literature begin showing excavators with many different attachments and applications. Eventually, they include augers, breakers, plate compactors and clamps, plus an assortment of bucket sizes and styles that can be easily exchanged.
Customer demand calls for more options for different digging conditions, so Bobcat begins to offer long-arm and extendable arm variations. The 341 is the first, a long-arm version of the 337. The 331E is the first model with an extendable dipper.
322 replaces the model 320, featuring a hydraulically retractable undercarriage for tight quarters operation. Retracted for transport, the 322 measures just 39 in. wide.
337 expands the line with 3.7 m digging depth.
Two new 300 Series models are added, with the 320 and 325 replacing the original 220 and 225, at 2.0 and 2.5 m digging depth.
Product development continues fast and furious with the 300 Series compact excavators. The lineup initially focuses on the most popular mid-range models, including the 331 and 334, with digging depths of 2.8, 3.1 and 3.4 m.
225 becomes the second U.S.-built Bobcat compact excavator, with a digging depth of 2.5 m. Model 231, the largest of the series, digs 3.1 m.
220 is the first Bobcat compact excavator off the line in Bismarck. The model number signifies it is a second-generation excavator (“2XX”), with a dig depth of 2.0 meters, (“X20”). (Note the change to metric measurements.)
The compact excavator, a product concept well developed in Europe and Asia, is a relative newcomer in North America with annual sales of just a few hundred units. Still, the combined volume -- and Bobcat success to date -- is enough for Bobcat to justify building its own. Initially, some excavator components were purchased and others were manufactured in-house. They were assembled in the Bismarck, North Dakota, factory where Melroe agricultural products had been built. In 1990, Bobcat becomes the first manufacturer to make excavators in North America, a record that would remain for 25 years.
100 and 116 models complete the first generation “100 Series” Bobcat excavator line. The 100 has a digging depth of 10 ft., and the 116 digs to 11 ft. 6 in.
130 excavator expands the range to 13 ft. digging depth.
Bobcat announced its plans to enter the compact hydraulic excavator market. As expected, Bobcat would bring its attachment expertise to excavators, expanding the range of applications (and money-making opportunities) for owners. The big splash came with the introduction of the X-Change™ system a decade later. X-Change allowed excavator operators to quickly remove one attachment and switch to another. Over the next three decades, Bobcat would bring to market multiple generations of excavator product designs.
Compact excavator models 56 and 76, built in Japan, are the first Bobcat-branded excavators to reach North America. The 56 has a digging depth of 5 ft. 6 in. The 76 digging depth is 7 ft. 6 in.
E32i and E35i are added to the 3-ton class of compact excavators. Then, two new Tier 4-compliant compact excavators — the E32 and E35 — with a non-DPF (diesel particulate filter) engine solution were introduced.
E55 model is introduced in the 5.5-ton weight class. Models E63 and E85 are updated 6- and 8-ton machines replacing the E60 and E80 models.
A new extendable arm option for the M-Series E32, E35 and E55 compact excavators is introduced to provide an additional 30 inches of reach, when fully extended. This is the first extendable arm for compact excavators in this size class that allows the use of the hydraulic clamp and Hydraulic X-Change™ attachment mounting system.
The E26 Minimal Tail Swing compact excavator replaces the 325 and 425 models. The E26 has an operating weight of 5,690 pounds and an overall width of 59 inches. The excavator is powered by a 27-horsepower diesel engine that is Interim Tier 4 compliant.
The E55 Conventional Tail Swing compact excavator joins the M-Series line. The E55 has an operating weight of 11,952 pounds, an overall width of 77.2 inches and is powered by a 48.8 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine that is interim Tier 4 compliant.
The 324 Conventional Tail Swing excavator is introduced in the 1.5-ton operating class.
The new E42, E45 and E50 models join the M-Series compact excavator line in the 4-to-5-ton weight class. All three features improved performance and operator comfort.
E32 model is the first of the M-Series generation of Bobcat excavators, starting a full redesign of the lineup over the next five years. The E32 replaces the 331 that had been part of the Bobcat line since 1993. Model numbering again switches to reflect industry terminology, making the E32 a 3.2 ton operating weight class, conventional tail-swing excavator.
E35 (3.5 tons) is introduced with the much larger E60 (6.0-ton) and E80 (8.0-ton) models. Models E42, E45, E50 follow later in the year.
E60 expands the Bobcat excavator lineup into the 6-ton class, and the E80 replaces the 442 in the 8-ton class.
Bobcat Company expanded its R-Series excavator lineup with the new E85, the largest machine in the company’s compact excavator family. The 8.5-ton E85 is part of the fastest-growing-size class of compact excavators in North America.
The all-new, next-generation R-Series E32 and E35 excavators are introduced. The R-Series excavators in the popular 3- to 4-ton size class feature design, performance and comfort enhancements.
Bobcat acquires Sambron and launches the company’s first rigid frame telehandler range offering maximum lifting heights from 5.6 to 18 m.
The new T40170 17 m telehandler is launched.
New operator cab and engine compartment on all nine Bobcat rigid frame telehandlers.
Bobcat targets the farming industry with the launch of the new T3571 7 m model and significant upgrades to the T2556 5 m and T2566 6 m models.
The new T35100 10 m telehandler is launched with new components and advanced features being added to machines throughout the range.
The innovative new T2250 5 m telehandler offers the versatility of two quick-change attachment mounting systems: the conventional carriage or the Bob-Tach system used on all Bobcat compact loaders.
Bobcat launches the new 12 m T35120SL MP telehandler, a fully ‘Man Platform Ready’ model designed for use with the company’s new EC-approved man platform, also for use on the T40140 14 m and T40170 17 m models.
A range of four rotary telehandlers with lifting heights from 15.7 to 24.5 m is launched by Bobcat.
Bobcat launches a new generation of 6 and 7 m telehandlers featuring many new features including a patented high visibility, asymmetric cab. The new TL360 and TL470 models replace the previous T2556, T2566 and T3571 telehandlers and herald significant changes to come throughout the range.
New advanced versions of the company’s two largest rigid frame telescopic handlers are launched. The new T40140 14 m and T40180 18 m models both have increased maximum lifting heights and are based on an easy-to-use design that provides class-leading efficiency and productivity backed by state-of-the-art safety systems.
To meet demand in the agricultural market, Bobcat launches the new high horsepower TL470HF telehandler.
The Pontchâteau plant manufactures its 20,000th Bobcat telehandler.
Continuing the revamp of the range, the previous five models from the T35100 to the T35120SL telehandlers are replaced by the new T35105, T35105L and T36120SL 10-12 m middle lift telescopic handlers.
Bobcat launches the company’s new T35130S 13 m and T35140S 14 m telehandlers at the Intermat 2015 exhibition in Paris, aimed at the construction and rental industries. Whilst they have a simpler design intended to meet the needs of rental businesses, the new T35130S and T35140S telehandlers still offer many of the advantages of the new generation models.
The TL358 and TL358+ telehandlers are two new compact 6 m models ideal for farming applications that complete the company’s new generation of compact 6 to 7 m machines, complementing the existing TL360 and TL470 telehandlers. There is also a premium version for the agricultural market, the TL358+ AGRI model, incorporating a number of additional features compared to the standard TL358+ model. Bobcat also launches new AGRI versions of the TL470 and TL470HF models.
The year ends with the launch of the company’s new EVO generation of Stage IIIB/Tier 4 interim rotary telehandlers, comprising four models – the TR38160, TR50190, TR50210 and TR40250 rotary telehandlers, providing maximum lifting heights of 15.7, 18.7, 20.5 and 24.1 m, respectively.
At Agritechnica in Hanover in Germany, Bobcat is launching the company’s new TL30.70 AGRI compact telescopic loader for the agricultural industry. The TL30.70 provides a maximum lift capacity of 3 tonne and a maximum lift height of nearly 7 m; the overall width remains at less than 2.1 m even with 24 inch tyres.
Providing a maximum lift capacity of 3 tonne and a maximum lift height of nearly 7 m, the new TL30.70 compact telehandler from Bobcat is designed for a wide range of applications found in the construction and rental industries.
Bobcat’s founding values and track record of commitment to customers have stayed true for over six decades.
The evolution of the Bobcat brand.
Bobcat's rich history started in 1947 in Gwinner, North Dakota.