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Global equipment market recovery expected in 2017

Global sales of construction equipment are forecast to fall 3.2 per cent in unit terms in 2016, to 663,553 machines, according to specialist economic forecasting and market research consultant, Off-Highway Research.  This is expected to represent the bottom of the cycle, following steep declines in 2015.

“In the event, 2015 was worse than expected for the global construction equipment industry,” said Off-Highway Research managing director David Phillips.  “Emerging markets were generally weak – the only significant exception being India – and developed regions of the world were not strong enough to offset the painful declines we saw in countries such as China.”

In 2015 global equipment volumes fell 16.6 per cent to 685,536 units. Lower global commodity prices and the weakening of the Chinese economy were the drivers behind the fall last year.  These factors saw sales of construction equipment in China drop 43 per cent to 119,717 units.  It was the fourth consecutive year of declines in the Chinese market, with volumes in 2015 just 28 per cent of what they were at the height of the boom – 435,070 units in 2011.

A further fall in sales is expected in China this year, with demand forecast to drop 10 per cent to 108,240 units.  Off-Highway Research expects that this will represent the bottom of the market, with moderate growth expected to resume in 2017.

There were also declines last year in rest of the world markets (Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia excluding China, India & Japan), with construction equipment sales falling 19 per cent to 158,855 units.  Weak economic conditions are expected to see a further fall to 153,764 units this year, before markets pick up in 2017.

The bright spot among emerging markets last year was India, with construction equipment sales rising 2 per cent to 37,465 units.  More substantial growth is expected in the coming years, with demand for construction equipment to reach almost 60,000 units by 2020.

The European construction equipment market grew 2 per cent last year to 127,411 units. This was the strongest sales have been since 2008, but demand was still significantly below the pre-crisis peak.  Further single-digit growth is expected in the coming years, which should see demand rise to 136,380 units by 2020.

Meanwhile, the North American market retreated from the peak which was seen in 2014, with a 2 per cent decline in sales to 167,255 units last year.  A further fall is expected this year, before growth returns.

There was a similar picture in Japan last year. Having reached a high point of 90,830 units in 2013, there was a 11 per cent fall in sales in 2015 to 74,833 units.  The market is expected to level-out this year, with more sustained growth following from 2017 onwards.

Mr Phillips said, “Off-Highway Research’s forecast is that the global market will reach the bottom of the cycle in 2016, which will be the fifth consecutive year of falling construction equipment sales.  When it comes, the recovery is likely to be gradual, reflecting weak business confidence and the uncertain geopolitical outlook around the world.”

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