The Swedish market for forest machines remained strong in the first half of this year but the big machinery manufacturers are losing market share. That’s the conclusion of statistics on forwarder sales presented by Elmia Wood.
Sales of forest machines in Sweden reached a record high in 2011. Official statistics show that 398 new forwarders were registered in the country that year. There are no equivalent figures for harvesters but manufacturers report that these machines also hit a new sales record.
Logically, sales should drop sharply in 2012, which falls between the preceding record year and the world’s biggest forestry fair next year, Elmia Wood 5–8 June 2013. However, the first seven months of this year outshone all expectations with 177 newly registered forwarders. With the exception of last year, so many machines have not been sold since 2007. “We have every reason to be satisfied with a total market of 600 forest machines,” comments Eero Lukkarinen, managing director of Ponsse’s Swedish subsidiary. “At the end of the 1990s, 450 to 500 units were sold every year in Sweden.”
Change of market leaders
Ponsse is one of this year’s winners along with Rottne and EcoLog. In a country where John Deere and Komatsu have been the traditional market leaders, a number of the smaller manufacturers are now making strong gains.
John Deere is still at the forefront with 55 registered forwarders compared with 80 in the first half of 2011. The company’s market share has fallen from 44.5 to 31.1 per cent. The biggest reduction came from last year’s number two, Komatsu Forest, which supplied 29 forwarders up to August. This reflects a drop in market share from 21.9 to 16.4 per cent. Komatsu has now been overtaken by both Ponsse and Rottne.
Ponsse has had a strong position in Sweden for some years now but lost a lot of ground last year by choosing to prioritise other markets. “Last year’s results were not acceptable, so the factory has focused on Sweden this year,” Lukkarinen explains.
That focus is also reflected in product development. Forest owners in Sweden prioritise lower ground pressure in order to reduce damage. Ponsse has therefore developed a ten wheeled forwarder, whose fifth pair of wheels can be raised and lowered hydraulically. The new forwarder is based on the 14-tonne Buffalo and will be exhibited at Elmia Wood in 2013. Rottne has had a stable domestic market for a long time but still managed to increase sales. In the first half of this year the company delivered 24 forwarders compared with 21 in the same period in 2011. Rottne thereby increased its market share from 13.3 to 17.5 per cent. “The work environment is becoming more and more important for recruiting young machine operators,” comments Rolf Andersson, managing director of Rottne. “Our new Comfort Line system for vibration dampening of the cab is one important factor behind our increased sales.”
Another winner is EcoLog, which so far this year has supplied 17 forwarders compared with 20 during the whole of 2011. The company has almost doubled its market share from 5 to 9.6 per cent.
The rest of this year does not look so promising, with the euro crisis creating uncertainty among forest contractors. However, an underlying, more positive trend remains intact. “Europe cannot reduce its emissions without biofuel. For that it needs forest machines, and the CTL method is preferable to whole stem harvesting,” Eero Lukkarinen concludes.
Market shares for forwarders in Sweden 2012