This examination of skid steer loaders in North America updates our last report from July 2016. The skid steer loader is a relatively small, light-to-moderate powered (25-120 hp range) earth moving piece of compact construction machinery. It has been one of the most highly-sought machines for construction and agricultural applications for several reasons: It is modestly priced, extremely maneuverable, and can be equipped with a wide assortment of attachments that make the machines versatile and allows them to work in many different types of job sites. Extremely small skid steer loaders are also available in a “mini” version that has more limited market appeal and will be discussed only briefly in this report.
The United States accounts for the bulk (88 percent in 2017) of North American sales, with the remaining 12 percent going to Canada. Production has followed a similar pattern of a robust period in the 2000s followed by more limited output throughout the 2010s. Production, however, generally exceeds sales, as a modest but noticeable number of machines are exported on an annual basis. In 2017, roughly six percent were sent to markets abroad, as exports of construction machinery have been limited by a number of different factors: A strong U.S. dollar that makes exports more costly, combined with sluggish demand in international markets, has reduced exports of numerous types of construction equipment. For a good number of years, imports had been minimal, usually limited to one model imported by Bobcat from the Czech Republic. However, with Japan-based Kubota entering the market in 2015 and importing all its skid steers, imports jumped to 11 percent of sales in 2017.