CECE, the Committee for European Construction Machinery, has published its Economic Report for 2014, and very interesting reading it once again makes. While the north of Europe seems to be bouncing back, southern and eastern countries are continuing to struggle.
Each year CECE analyses the data supplied by its member organisations, the national associations that represent construction equipment manufacturers – 1200 manufacturing companies in total. The result is an accurate representation of what is happening in the marketplace. Construction equipment manufacturers have had a difficult time for the past seven years but are slowly pulling their way back.
Construction equipment sales across Europe grew by 9% in 2014 compared to 2013, CECE finds, while exports (machines manufactured in Europe but sold outside) showed less growth. For CECE, ‘Europe’ means the geographic entity of Europe, including Russia and Turkey, not just the political entity of the European Union.
Among the regions of the world, only North America saw more growth than Europe in construction machinery sales in 2014. However, as CECE economist Sebastian Popp, points out, the gains that Europe made in 2014 were only enough to make up for the ground lost in 2013. “The market is still more than 40% below the record levels seen in 2007,” he says.
While sales in the UK and Germany are nearly back to the peak level of 2007, southern and eastern Europe remains deeply in the doldrums. The UK saw sales growth by a third compared to the already strong 2013, whereas Turkey and Russia had saw market declines of 25% and 37% respectively.
Sales by product segment, 2014 saw European earthmoving equipment rise 6% to return to 2012 levels, with 135,000 units sold within Europe. Star performers were the UK, where earthmoving sales rose 32% to make it Europe’s second biggest market after Germany, and the Netherlands, which grew 35%. Germany also saw solid growth of nearly 10% during the year. Belgium (+11%), and Austria (+14%) also performed well, as did Scandinavia, were earthmoving sales growth average 10.5%
The biggest fallers for earthmoving sales in the year were Russia and France.
In southern Europe, where it was thought that the construction machinery market had completely died, a pulse has been found – the patient is alive! The Spanish earthmoving market grew by 54%, the tiny Portuguese market jumped by 69%. Italy, the only remaining volume market in Southern Europe, saw a sound growth of 20%. However, it must be noted that although these percentage numbers sound high, they are from an extremely low starting point.
In general, compact earthmoving equipment sold better than heavy equipment, particularly mini excavators and compact wheel loaders. Heavy equipment sales also grew in 2014, but the weakness of the mining and quarrying sector, and crisis in Russia, had an impact.
Road construction equipment was the sub-sector that saw the most sales growth in Europe in 2014, with a 19% unit increase compared to 2013. Within this sub-sector, light compaction equipment sales increased 20%, self-propelled rollers were up 16% and asphalt paver sales rose 21%.
Building construction equipment did less well. After two consecutive years of decline, sales remained flat in 2014.
European sales of concrete equipment and of tower cranes both fell 13% in 2014.
For 2015 there is a modest degree of optimism – at least among manufacturers of earthmoving and road equipment. Concrete equipment manufacturers are less sure. “It is likely that recovery will continue, however the extent of it is more questionable,” says Sebastian Popp. It is unclear how firm any revival in southern Europe is and the Russia-Ukraine conflict will certainly hit European equipment sales. Against this backdrop, slight growth is the most that Europe can hope for in 2015, CECE concludes.Google+