Sales of construction equipment worldwide touched a six-year high last year, surging to almost 895,000 units, a year-on-year rise of 28%.
According to a report by specialist forecasting and market research company Off-Highway Research, the numbers are the highest since 2012 and are also a marked improvement on the 2015-2016 figures, when global sales bottomed out at 700,000 units.
China and India were the biggest drivers of growth last year, with equipment sales rising a whopping 82% in the former, leading to sales of over 200,000 units again for the first time since 2014 and returning China to the top of the list in terms of the largest equipment markets, ahead of the US.
The biggest contributor to the global sales surge was the new-found buoyancy in China, which is linked to its ‘One Belt One Road’ infrastructure projects launched towards the end of 2016. The project has driven demand, especially in larger earthmoving machines.
Elsewhere in Asia, robust growth continued in India last year, with a 14% increase in construction equipment sales following on from the 36% surge seen in 2016. This took the market size to a new record level of 60,089 units, surpassing its previous high in 2011.
Meanwhile in Japan equipment sales were also up 14% on a sharp rise in the crawler excavator segment.
Western Europe rose 13% last year to 160,562 units, the highest since the global financial crisis. All countries in the region saw increased demand with the highlights being Sweden and Norway, which reached new records. Germany recorded its highest sales since the reunification boom of the early 1990s.
The North American market also returned to growth last year with sales up 11% to 173,188 units, thanks to accelerating economic growth.
According to Off-Highway Research’s projections, global equipment sales will grow another 6% this year, with North America, India and China leading the way. Japan, meanwhile, is expected to fall slightly as the European market levels off.