This report examines the market for crawler (tracked) and wheeled excavators that are considered standard size—machines weighing six metric tons or more. Crawler machines weighing less than six metric tons are classified as compact or mini-excavators and are covered in a separate report. Compact wheeled excavators are brand new to the market, first introduced by Volvo a few years ago and now offered by three other companies. Since these machines are new to the market, we do not provide separate sales estimates. However, OEM’s models for compact wheeled models are listed at the end of the report, as their weight ranges tend to straddle the six metric ton dividing line between standard and compact machines. An additional category used by some companies, the “midi” excavator, includes machines weighing between seven and ten metric tons. These are included in our analysis of standard crawler sales and production totals.
The construction sector, like the rest of the economy, is undoubtedly looking at challenging times ahead, as the Covid-19 corona virus takes a toll on the nation and world. While it is premature to assume the economy and construction sector will rebound quickly, it is worth noting that the hydraulic excavator weathered the last significant crisis, the Great Recession, better than most other types of standard-size earthmoving machinery. Compare, for example, sales in 2019 with 2010, the year construction machinery bottomed out as the economy remained sluggish. In 2019, sales of most types of construction machinery exceeded 2010 levels, including crawler dozers (99% higher), standard-size wheel loaders (71%), and backhoe loaders (17%). Crawler excavators in 2019 surpassed these growth rates with a 182 percent gain over 2010 sales. This analysis applies to standard size rather than compact construction machinery, which generally grew at faster rates, especially the compact track loader’s astonishing 382 percent jump in sales in 2019 compared to 2010. The superior growth analysis also does not apply to sales of wheeled excavators, which increased by 29 percent in the same time period.
Hydraulic excavators were able to recover more robustly than other types of equipment partly because of their familiarity—they have been a mainstay in construction for years—and because of their versatility. Although building construction is the most typical application for excavators, attachments allow the machines to work in a wide variety of settings. They are suitable for forestry, materials handling, road repair and building, marine dredging, waste management,