The compact track loader has come from nowhere to outsell any other compact product in the US. But why? Versatility and speed are the answer, according to Yanmar Construction Equipment
In many major global markets the undisputed king of compact equipment is the mini-excavator. And they sure are popular in the US, too, where some 60,000 units are sold every year. But even this huge number is dwarfed by sales of compact track loaders, which currently sell an incredible 90,000 units a year.
The compact track loader, or CTL, has leapfrogged the skid steer loader (sales of which are 50% down on a decade ago), which has long been popular in the US. The upward trajectory of CTL sales in recent years has been near vertical. “I think it’s particularly popular in the US because it can cover ground and move material so fast – this is a big country with big sites!” says Buck Storlie, Yanmar Compact Equipment (CE) product manager for North America. “The tracks give the edge over skid steers’ wheels, in that they can work more days a year, even in very damp conditions, thanks to the tracks’ much lower ground pressure. With their much greater traction, they are also more stable and have a higher ability to push into a pile. And they are extremely versatile tool carriers, which give them the flexibility to do a wide range of jobs, with minimal tool change-over times. And, at the end of the day, you can put it on a trailer and tow it home behind an average pick up.”
Storlie should know, he has been working at Yanmar CE’s US factory for 27 years, most of that working with compact track loaders. So, who better to help bring Yanmar’s first all new range of CTLs to market – a range debuted so successfully at the recent CONEXPO?
The first ConExpo since the ill-fated event in 2020 was overwhelmed by covid, there was a lot of pent-up excitement about this year’s show, and not just from visitors, but dealers and manufacturers too. “We were expecting a big turnout – and weren’t disappointed” says Storlie. “The market is at the top of a wave, stimulus money is starting to flow into projects and optimism that this situation might stick around for a while is high.”
Yanmar CE has transformed itself in the almost decade since the company was last in Vegas, so that today it’s almost unrecognizable. And the changes and improvements go much deeper than the new glossy ‘Premium Red’ color scheme. With ambitions to be a full liner in the compact equipment sphere, Yanmar is filling product gaps in its mini-excavator and compact wheel loader line ups. But the new products that are really getting the Yanmar guys in North America excited is the launch of an all-new four model Yanmar compact track loader range – the company’s first in its current line-up.
Given the size of the market to aim at, Yanmar is optimistic at the prospect of better fulfilling North America compact equipment market needs. The new range is a ground-up design, developed after extensive research on customer needs and competitor analysis, and in close cooperation with Yanmar’s in-house skid steer and CTL experts. The result is a high performing, durable range that is keenly priced, the latter helped by being built in the US, saving on intercontinental shipping costs.
The four-model line-up comes with open ROPS and all-weather cabs, with cab configured models expected to dominate sales. “Owners want to jump out of their comfortable pickups and into an equally comfortable fully loaded cab in their loader,” says Storlie.
The launch of Yanmar’s CTL range is arguably the most important product launch for the company in the US since it introduced the zero-tail swing excavator. The four machines range from the 2,100lb rated operating capacity (ROC) TL65RS, with its 67 hp Yanmar engine, up to the 3,600lb ROC TL100VS, with its 103.5hp Yanmar engine. Together, these four machines cover almost all (93%) of the CTL market in North America.
“This is huge for us – it gets us into the largest compact construction machine segment in the US. But we start in a pretty good position,” believes Storlie. “The buyers of CTLs are often the same as those that buy mini excavators. So, whereas in the past customers might say: ‘Okay, Yanmar fulfils 50% of my needs’ now we can be seen as full liners and supply them with all their compact requirements.”