In its Annual Economic Report for 2019, published today, CECE said 2018 was the strongest year for European construction since the financial crisis of 2008/09.
The organisation, which represents the interests of construction equipment manufacturers throughout Europe, also said it expected no significant downturn throughout this year.
The figures from CECE show the European market grew by 11% in 2018, with the absolute market level now standing at just 10% below the 2007 peak.
Figures also show equipment sales gaining momentum throughout the year, with first quarter sales up 5% on the same period in 2017, followed by growth of 8.5% in the second, then 9.4% in the third, culminating in an impressive 15% growth in the final quarter.
The report shows that, in general terms, Western and Northern Europe enjoyed steady growth, while Southern, Central and Eastern European markets continued to recover at above-average levels.
According to CECE’s figures, only the Turkish market bucked the upward trend, with the country’s general economic malaise leading to a significant fall in construction activity in the second half of 2018.
Even with the inclusion of the poor Turkish figures, sales of earthmoving equipment in Europe grew by 9.6% for the year, overtaking the value of sales in 2008.
Road equipment sales fared even better, with a 12% uplift on 2017’s figures.
While revealing that construction equipment was the best-performing of the equipment sub-sectors, the report did point out that growth in sales of tower cranes and concrete equipment was ‘less dynamic’ in 2018.
Overall, CECE said the picture is ‘very positive’, despite ‘a still existing and rather strong North-South disparity’.
In its outlook, however, the report suggests it is unrealistic to expect the same levels of growth to continue throughout 2019, especially given uncertainties surrounding Brexit, as well as the risk of a global trade war.
CECE’s economic expert Sebastian Popp said, “The forecast for the European construction equipment market is for sales to be between 0% and -5% in 2019”, but added, “this would still represent a good year for the industry and is by no means bad news.”