European equipment market highest for a decade

By Chris Sleight |  13 March 2019

Construction equipment sales in Europe last year hit their highest level for a decade, according to Off-Highway Research’s newly updated International Database Service. Sales rose 10 per cent to 177,694 units.

This took demand to its highest level since the global financial crisis, although it was still some 15 per cent lower than the remarkable peak of 210,000 units sold in 2007. However, the boom of the mid 2000s took the market to unsustainably high levels, resulting in a prolonged and painful crash. At the current level, European equipment demand is regarded as being extremely healthy.

Off-Highway Research managing director Chris Sleight said, “Equipment sales increased in every Western European country apart from Switzerland last year and the market was more buoyant than many expected. Sales could have been even higher were it not for supply issues and long lead times for some equipment types.

He continued, “We believe that 2018 represented the peak of the current cycle. However, we expect only a moderate downturn and overall demand should stay at good levels.”

Countries displaying growth well above the average of 10 per cent last year included Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. However, volumes in these countries still remain relatively low in historic terms. In contrast, growth was below trend in Norway and Sweden, but these countries have reached remarkable highs in terms of the number of machines being sold.

France, Germany and the UK accounted for 64 per cent of European equipment sales last year, and all three enjoyed good growth. Most notable was Germany, where demand for construction equipment was a staggering 43,106 units last year. This total has only been bettered once, in 1992 at the height of the post-reunification building boom. Mini and crawler excavator sales in Germany have never been higher and demand for telescopic handlers is also at record levels.

In France demand has bounced back well from the downturn seen in 2015 thanks to tax breaks and infrastructure investment. At 32,920 machines sold last year, demand was 64 per cent higher than the low point seen just three years previously.

Meanwhile, construction equipment sales in the UK reached a post-crisis high of 38,020 units last year, despite the uncertainty and political bungling around Brexit. A good housebuilding market and a number of major construction projects are providing stability in the market.

Off-Highway Research’s updated data for Europe is now available to subscribers to the International Database Service. The information can be accessed via the Subscriber Login link on, or by clicking here. The update includes actual sales and production figures by brand/OEM in 2018 for 15 equipment types in 15 European countries, while the forecast has been extended to 2023.

Detailed analysis of the figures will be published in April in Off-Highway Research’s Annual Review of the European construction equipment industry. This forms part of clients’ subscriptions to the European Service and European Market Reports. The Annual Review is also available for non-subscribers to purchase. Contact for more information.

Key findings form the new data and forecast will be discussed at Off-Highway Research's breakfast briefing on Tuesday 9th April, during the Bauma exhibition. Click here for more details and to book your place.

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