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Volvo loaders reinforce lead in wheeled market

PLANT Lapland launch also sees manufacturer introduce wheeled excavators to add to market share in Europe

VOLVO has made a further assault on the construction equipment sector with the launch of four wheeled loaders and two wheeled excavators.

At last week's press event the company showcased its machines working in the challenging conditions of Jukkasjarvi, in Sweden, 200 km inside the Arctic Circle, where the temperature was -32 deg C.

The wheeled loaders pirouetting on a frozen river, covered by a film of 1 mthick ice, included two new models - the L60E and L110. They were joined by two upgrades from its D-series, the L70E and L90E.

Volvo currently claims number one position in the European wheeled loader market with 29 per cent market share, and the move is intended to consolidate that position.

Chris Rees, President of the European Division of Volvo Construction Equipment, said the L60E was aimed at versatile applications such as materials handling in builders' yards, while the larger L110 was targeted towards one application high-volume output.

All new machines have an improved automatic powershift gear system that allows the operator to choose between four shifting modes. They have Volvo engines, meeting EU step II emission requirements producing high torque at low rpm, according to the company.

Volvo said it had improved the frame design of the E-series and also the noise insulation in the cabs.

The Swedish manufacturer currently has a small share of the wheeled excavator market in Europe and the new 15.8 tonne EW160B and 19.8 tonne EW 180B aim to redress the balance.

Mr Rees said: 'Until now we've had limited success with wheeled excavators in Europe because we didn't have the right products for the market. These new models are a challenge to establish ourselves as a serious player.'

He added that the company was increasingly focusing on commonality of parts for both types of equipment, and had simplified the in-cab controls.

The first new models for customers will be coming out of the factories in the first half of 2003.