Mini-excavators, also known as compact excavators, are earthmoving excavators that weigh less than six metric tons. Some OEMs, however, include excavators weighing up to ten metric tons in their mini-excavator line; we consider machines with operating weights between six and ten metric tons as standard-sized excavators and cover them in a separate report.
Mini-excavators are one of the most commonly-used pieces of construction equipment and can be found working in construction, landscaping, agriculture, highway maintenance and utility applications where space constraints prevail. They are relatively inexpensive, portable and versatile, which makes them attractive to the rental market. We estimate that there are 19 different brands of these excavators offered in North America. Most manufactures make their own machines; however, a few outsource production of their offerings to one of their competitors and then private label with their own brand.
Table 1 summarizes the report’s major findings. Mini-excavator sales are robust, increasing 26 percent since 2014. We expect further growth for the next several years as it is a multi-purpose machine that is popular with rental companies. We estimate that 89 percent of North American sales occur in the United States.
Production levels by percentage terms have increased more than sales as Caterpillar joined Bobcat as a domestic manufacturer of mini-excavators beginning in 2014. Production levels will outpace sales for the next several years as Caterpillar shifts its sourcing of machines from overseas locations to its facility in Athens, Georgia. Caterpillar management expects the shift to be completed by the end of 2019, although has indicated that the timing is still not absolutely defined.