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Increased competition in the global wheeled loader market

First publishedin World Highways
2014 November December
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Caterpillar 986H loader
The Caterpillar 986H loader is designed as a new replacement for of early generation 988 models still used in emergent markets

There is increased competition in the wheeled loader market on a global basis - Mike Woof writes

The wheeled loader segment is one of the most hotly contested in the earthmoving machine market. There is an enormous array of manufacturers competing in this segment, including European, US, Japanese, South Korean and Chinese firms. This last group is of particular note as China represents the biggest single market for wheeled loaders in the world.

It is true that sales of wheeled loaders have dropped in China, while the market for excavators has grown. But all the same, wheeled loaders remain key machines amongst Chinese customers. Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo CE have traditionally held the major share of the wheeled loader market internationally. However these firms have come to face increased competition from other manufacturers in the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea and China in recent years.

Caterpillar has responded to the divergence of demand for products by developing specific models for certain markets. The company builds high specification wheeled loaders in Europe and the US aimed at those markets, featuring the low emissions engines and exhaust after-treatment systems necessary.

Meanwhile the company also builds some models with Tier 3 and Tier 2 rated engines for sale into emergent markets. The 986H for example is built in China and is intended for customers in the emergent territories looking to replace ageing examples of early generation 988 loaders.

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Lonking wheeled loader market
Lonking is looking to increase its international presence in the wheeled loader market, based on the strong reputation for its home market models

The 988 class model has grown in size since it was first introduced, which was why Caterpillar felt that there was room in the range for a slightly smaller model in the shape of the 986. This is pitched at emergent territories by featuring conventional controls and without the sophisticated electronics seen on models for sales in North America and Europe.

Meanwhile Volvo CE has responded to the need for machines for emergent markets through developing its Chinese SDLG business. While these machines share some technology with the Volvo CE branded units, they are built in China and marketed in parallel.


Understandably, given the strength of demand for wheeled loaders in China, the country’s own manufacturers have developed an impressive array of models. And nor have sales of these been restricted to China either, with units being supplied to emergent markets in particular.

The Chinese companies have been developing their ranges too and of particular note is the new 51tonne unit from LiuGong.

This tops the range of H series loaders, which previously ranged from 5.6-30tonnes in size. The 51tonne CLG8128H loader from LiuGong is powered by a diesel rated at 591kW and which meets Tier 3 emissions regulations, suiting it to sales in emergent markets.

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SDLG loaders new customer base
The SDLG loaders bear a family resemblance to their Volvo CE siblings but are built for a different customer base

The company is also rolling out the improved CLG890H model, which competes in the 30tonne class and is is powered by a diesel rated at 261kW. Of note too is LiuGong’s 17tonne class CLG856H, which is powered by a diesel rated at 162kW and which can be specified to meet the Tier 4 Final/Stage IV emissions requirements for North America and Europe respectively.

Another Chinese firm that has previously specialised in wheeled loaders, Shanghai-based Lonking, is also introducing two new models in the shape of its CDM835 and CDM856 models. The company is offering these machines with a range of engine options, including diesels that meet Tier 4 Final/Stage IV emissions requirements. The company is also working on new generation machines said to match or even beat models from developed nations for performance and styling.

Meanwhile XCMG is also competing in a much larger wheeled loader class with its 48tonne LW1200K. This is powered by a Cummins QSK19 diesel rated at 391kW and which meets Tier 3 emissions regulations. The machine has a bucket capacity of 6.5m3 and a rated payload of 12tonnes. Other features include novel axle cooling systems, the use of lightweight materials in certain areas to help reduce weight and cut fuel consumption, sophisticated electronics and an advanced telematics package that allows for remote servicing.

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