European equipment sales to rise +5.4% in 2011

By Chris Sleight16 March 2011

Construction equipment sales in Europe. SOURCE: Off-Highway Research.

Construction equipment sales in Europe. SOURCE: Off-Highway Research.

Construction equipment sales in Europe are forecast to rise +5.4% this year to 104821 units, according to the latest report from Off-Highway Research. The company's annual review of the European market points to a slowdown in growth compared to last year's +15% rebound from a historic low point of 86400 units in 2009.

At the peak of the market in 2007, 212028 construction machines were sold in Europe, so volumes this year are still expected to be less than half what they were in that boom year. Looking ahead, Off-Highway Research expects single-digit growth for the next three years, taking sales to 120927 units in 2014.

The strongest growth this year is expected in Ireland, where unit sales are expected to rise +26,5% to 658 machines. However, after massive falls in 2008 and 2009, the market will be only 13% of the size it was in 2007 - 5206 machines.

Big 5

There is also expected to be strong growth in France and Germany this year, with +17,8% and +15,6% rises respectively. This will once again make Germany the largest equipment market in Europe at 27850 machines, while France will overtake the UK to claim second spot with sales of 21585 machines.

The other 'Big 5' markets are all expected to shrink this year. Sales in the UK are forecast to fall -5,6% to 18638 units, Italy will drop -7,5% to 13755 units and the equipment market in Spain is expected to slide -9,8% to 2220 machines. While Italy and the UK will see sales at about half of their pre-credit crunch volumes this year, the market in Spain will be only about 10% of what it was before the crisis. In 2007 it saw equipment sales of 21053 units.

It is the losses in these three key markets that will suppress growth next year. Off-Highway Research expects all the other markets in Western Europe to see growth this year, with the exception of Norway and Sweden. In contrast, there are expected to be sales rises in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, as well as France, Germany and Ireland.

By equipment

The strongest growth next year is expected to be in the lower volume segments of the markets, with big double-digit rises forecast in the sales of dozers, crawler loaders, haulers, graders and rough terrain forklifts. There will however be a +12% rise in sales of wheeled excavators to 7090 units, thanks to the buoyancy of the two main European markets for this type of machine - Germany and France.

But as far as high-volume products like crawler excavators, mini excavators, telehandlers and skid steer loaders are concerned, growth will be around the +5% mark. The only product group set for a fall in sales this year is backhoe loaders, with Off-Highway Research forecasting a -0,2% drop in sales to 4398 units. This compares to a peak of 13793 machines in 2007.

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