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Off-Highway Research forecasts sustained growth in global construction equipment markets

Global construction equipment sales rose 27 percent in 2017 to 894,000 units, according to new data from specialist forecasting company Off-Highway Research. This was the highest the market has been since 2012, and was a marked turnaround from 2015 and 2016 when worldwide equipment sales bottomed-out at 702,000 units.

The market was worth US$88 billion last year, a 25 percent increase on 2016's figure of US$ 70.6 billion.

Chris Sleight, Managing Director of Off-Highway Research said, "Most countries around the world saw an increase in construction equipment sales last year, with the most robust growth being in developing Asia. There was a sharp turnaround in China and the Indian market continued to go from strength to strength. Growth elsewhere in the world was more restrained, but this was still welcome after what were difficult years in 2015 and 2016. Over the coming years, Off-Highway Research expects moderate but sustained growth in construction equipment demand around the globe, taking sales to more than 1,000,000 units by 2022."

Worldwide Sales and Forecast Sales of Construction Equipment, 2017-2022 (Units)

2017 2018* 2019* 2020* 2021* 2022*
Europe 160,551 161,958 160,238 152,316 150,790 149,953
North America 173,188 193,250 217,525 238,515 255,325 267,350
Japan 67,810 59,330 61,700 65,285 71,845 66,845
China 217,110 245,232 225,965 201,945 212,520 222,700
India 60,485 67,560 66,410 72,460 78,310 83,960
Rest of the World 214,923 222,336 222,377 220,420 230,980 236,678
Total 894,067 949,666 954,215 950,941 999,770 1,027,486
% Change on Previous Year +27 +6 - - +5 +3
 * - Forecast.
Source: Off-Highway Research

China has endured a savage boom and bust cycle over recent years, with extraordinary highs in 2010 and 2011 on the back of the government's stimulus plans being followed by five years of sharply falling equipment sales. The market enjoyed a striking rebound last year due to a slew of new infrastructure projects. Among other things, this saw demand for crawler excavators in China more than double in 2017, compared to sales levels in 2016.

Another notable market in Asia is India, which continued its robust performance. Construction equipment sales in India grew by some 10 per cent in 2017, continuing the momentum of the 36 per cent surge seen in 2016, and taking demand for equipment to a new record high.

All countries in Western Europe enjoyed improving construction equipment sales last year. The most robust growth in percentage terms tended to be in Southern countries. However, volumes in these areas remain at a historically low ebb compared to levels prior to the global financial crisis. Countries in Europe where volumes are good include Belgium, Finland, Switzerland and, most significantly, Germany, while demand for construction equipment in both Norway and Sweden surged to all-time highs in 2017.

In North America the construction equipment market rediscovered its buoyancy last year, following a year of declining sales in 2016 as uncertainty swirled around the outcome of the presidential election. With a strengthening economy, historically high construction output and the need to renew an aging fleet of machinery, equipment sales picked up in 2017.

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