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Bobcat launches Czech-built mini

PLANT

COMPACT equipment giant Bobcat has launched what it claims is the first 1.4-tonne excavator with an expandable undercarriage as standard.

The 319, which was launched at the Hire Show, can be towed on a standard vehicle trailer. It weighs 1.3 tonnes with a canopy or 1.4 tonnes with a cab.

The machine, which will be manufactured at the firm's Dobris factory in the Czech Republic, is the first Bobcat mini to be built in Europe.

Bobcat's regional manager John Burton said the Czech factory will reduce the firm's dependence on shipping machines from the USA and cut lead times, which are up to six weeks on some machines.

He added: 'The mini is designed specifically for Europe, Bobcat is no longer looking at adapting what is successful in the American market.' The 9.9 kW machine has auxiliary hydraulics and rubber tracks as standard. It has piping above the boom to reduce potential damage, allow a lighter boom to be used and cut stress on the structure.

In a bid to increase its market share in Britain, where it is eighth in the mini excavator league on 3.5 per cent, Bobcat has restructured its sales and service offering.

It has hired a sales manager for major accounts and will use business development and regional service managers.

The firm is offering a range of finance deals, including the option of operating leases, where the machine is handed back or upgraded after five years.

Mr Burton said: 'Without giving away targets, these changes will enable the sales force to improve the market share for both minis and telehandlers.'