Record equipment sales

By Chris Sleight09 May 2008

Construction equipment sales in Western Europe grew +12% to an all-time high of 211560 machines last year, according to the latest report from Off-Highway Research. However, the company forecasts that this will be the peak in the current cycle, with an -8% decline expected this year to take the market to 184159 units.

According to Off-Highway Research, every country in Western Europe apart from Austria saw a rise in equipment sales last year. The biggest rises were seen in Portugal (+27%) and Belgium (+19%).

As far as the larger countries are concerned, equipment sales in the UK rose +18% in 2007 to 390403, reinforcing it as the biggest market in Europe in unit terms. The next largest, France, also saw strong growth last year with a +16% rise in sales to 38732 machines.

The rebound in the German equipment market continued in 2007 with a +18% rise to 37711 machines. Growth in the hitherto booming Spanish market cooled with a +6% increase to 21047 units. Equipment sales in Italy were flat, with a marginal +1% increase to 30945 pieces.

In terms of equipment types, mini excavators remained incredibly popular in Europe last year, with sales rising +13% to a massive 70878 units. This means that one in three construction machines sold in Western Europe last year was a mini excavator.

Last year also saw big rises in sales of heavy equipment for civil engineering applications. Articulated dump truck sales rose +21% to 3063 machines, in line with the +21% rise in tracked excavator sales to 35697 units. In lower volume areas, dozer sales grew +29% to 1915 machines and the number of graders retailed went up +20% to 496.

In its forecasts for this year, Off-Highway Research expects almost all 15 European countries in its survey to see a drop in equipment sales. The best news will be in Denmark, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, where the prediction is for sales on a par with 2007 levels.

Global perspective

Last year was also a record year for worldwide equipment sales. Off-Highway Research says sales China, Japan, India, North America and Western Europe totalled 742249 machines in 2007 a +6.6% 2006.

In an interesting shift, China became both the biggest market in the world for construction equipment as well as the world's biggest producer in unit terms. In 2007 sales in China leapt +25% to 226262 units, overtaking both North America and Western Europe, to account for 30% of the global market. Production levels in China hit 254378 pieces of construction equipment last year.

India saw the fastest rate of growth last year, where sales of equipment rose +47% to 36051 machines. Off-Highway Research predicts this market will top the growth table once again this year, with a further +39% rise to just over 50000 machines.

Japan saw a much more modest rise of +4% in 2007, to a sales volume of 76216 machines, and a further +1% rise is expected this year. North America was the only major equipment market to see a fall in sales last year, with a -16% decline to 192160 machines.

Off-Highway Research expects the global equipment market to stay at almost exactly the same volume this year, with further strong growth in China and India offsetting declines in Western Europe and North America.

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