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Caterpillar record top line buttressed worldwide; to further invest in China

By LIU YUKUN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-01 09:25

An employee operates a Caterpillar excavator at a facility in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. [ZHAI HUIYONG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Caterpillar Inc, a global manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, will continue its investments in the Chinese market with intensified efforts to develop innovative products tailored to local consumers amid industry headwinds, said an executive on Wednesday.

"The company saw good financial performance in China from 2020 to 2022. We will further introduce new innovative products and service solutions in response to current market dynamics and evolving customer needs, to facilitate the growth of our business in the country after facing challenges last year," said Alan Yang, senior vice-president in charge of Caterpillar's Chinese operations.

According to market analysis body CSIMarket, Caterpillar is now the world's largest construction and mining machinery maker with a 59.62 percent market share in 2023. The company's global sales revenue was a record $67.1 billion last year, the highest in its 98-year history, up 13 percent year-on-year. The operating profit margin was 19.3 percent in 2023, compared with 13.3 percent in 2022.

Yang said that to enhance its brand competitiveness in the Chinese market last year, Caterpillar introduced new models of hydraulic excavators and electric-driven loaders, with improved carbon emissions mechanisms to align with China's low-carbon industry trends, amid challenges like an industry downturn and tighter emissions standards in the Chinese market.

In terms of further development in China, Yang said that aside from launching new products, the company will also roll out a full-lifecycle service including developing new systems for existing equipment to enhance efficiency, and continue to work on sectors such as equipment fueled by new energies.

Since the beginning of this year, regional departments across China have actively boosted economic activity, promoted project commencement and propelled construction progress, leading to a positive trend in the domestic construction machinery market.

Major domestic construction machinery manufacturers — including Sany Group, Zoomlion and Guangxi Liugong Machinery — have resumed production and initiated deliveries of the first batch of orders since the Chinese Lunar New Year.

China Construction Machinery Association data pointed to a turnaround in excavator sales after experiencing 12 consecutive months of year-on-year declines. In January, sales of various types of excavators reached 12,376 units, an 18.5 percent year-on-year increase.

Experts attribute the positive growth in excavator sales to an increase in overseas orders, equipment upgrades driven by rising emissions standards and demand from infrastructure projects.

The positive growth in monthly excavator sales marked a clear sign of a potential rebound for the engineering and machinery sectors in China and a possible increase in infrastructure project commencement rates, said experts.

Hu Qimu, a researcher at the China Enterprise Confederation, said as infrastructure investment intensifies, it will provide effective support for stable economic growth in 2024, thereby boosting construction machinery consumption.

Hu said with the traditional peak sales season for excavators approaching in March, and the increase in project commencement rates after the Spring Festival holiday (Feb 10-17), overall sales of excavators in the domestic market in the first quarter are expected to achieve growth.

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