JCB has unveiled a host of new machines as it heads into 2008, expecting increased growth worldwide despite the current global credit crunch.
Chief operating officer Matthew Taylor said that although there was nervousness and uncertainty in the market and significant falls expected in the American construction sector, JCB’s success in the emerging markets - particularly India and Russia - would see its figures grow in 2008, albeit at a slower rate than this year.
It built over 70,000 machines last year, a 30 per cent rise on 2006, which Mr Taylor said had outpaced the overall market increase by 18 per cent.
JCB unveiled new models across its range, from mini exc-ava-tors to telehandlers, as well as announcing its largest excavator yet, a 52 tonner that will appear in concept form at the Conexpo show in Las Vegas.
The JS520 is six tonnes bigger than its current flagship excavator and will enable the company to have a wider offering for the quarrying sector.
At the other end of the scale, it has launched new mini excavators, including the 2 t 8020, which it claims is the largest mini on the market that can be towed by a crew-cab vehicle. It is also producing its first 5.5 tonne machine, available in zero tailswing and reduced tailswing models, which it will shortly follow with a six tonner, the 8065.
According to compact products specialist Paul Hoptroff the six tonner will create a new weight class, with smaller dimensions than rivals.
He said: “It’s a new size. None of the big manufacturers have anything in the six tonne bracket, they all start at seven tonnes, but I am willing to bet it will hold its own against any of the seven tonners.”
JCB is shipping all the European mini excavators with a unique key linked to an electronic immobiliser.
A keypad ignition is available as an option for hire companies who don’t want the hassle of lost keys.
JCB is claiming another major breakthrough with its HiViz Loadall range of telehandlers, which have seen the boom pivot point lowered and rear overhang cut by 90 mm for improved rear visibility. Axle angles have also been improved to increase the machines’ manoeuvrability.
The company is pressing ahead with major expansions to keep pace with demand for heavy products.
The firm is opening a £7 million attachments factory in April and is hopeful that it will be able to start production of excavators at a new Uttoxeter factory later in the year. But it is currently wrangling with the planners over the redevelopment of its current factory in the middle of the town.
At the same time it is scaling up its New Delhi excavator factory to double production to fuel the Indian demand. Sales in India outpaced those in JCB’s home UK market last year, with 17,000 machines. “I would like to see it top 20,000 this year,” Mr Taylor said.
According to its India boss, Sandeep Singh, the phenomenal growth in the country has actually been constrained by supply of big machines.
He said: “The major growth in the future will come from the heavy line. Our factory workers are now volunteering to work six days a week to cope with the demand.”
The next logical step is likely to be a factory for the burgeoning Russian market, where demand leapt 73 per cent last year. The prospect of JCB building in Russia itself is dependent on a number of factors, according to well-placed sources.