Foreseeing huge demand for its compact equipment, Doosan Bobcat is firming up plans for India with a local factory and a wider dealer network. Hyungwon (HW) Park, Executive Vice President, Asia, LA & Oceania Region, Doosan Bobcat, discusses the company's long-term plans for achieving the number one position in the country's Compact Construction Equipment market, during an interview with Maria R.
What are the emerging trends in the Compact Construction Equipment Market, worldwide?
The Compact Construction Equipment Market is going through a very good phase. Globally, there has been good demand for compact construction equipment, mainly from agriculture and construction sectors. There has been a shift from tire mounted Skid-Steer Loaders (SSL) to Compact Track Loaders (CTL) in a big way. This is because CTLs are able to work in different terrains with stability and higher pushing force and also do not tear up the surface, resulting in higher productivity. Overall, Compact Excavators occupy the largest volume amongst compact construction equipment. As regards technology, the hybrid and all-electric drive machines are being launched. Telematics and Remote Control is another area where a lot of exciting innovation is happening.
Doosan Bobcat is at the forefront introducing these latest technologies making the machines environment friendly. At Bauma 2019 in Munich, Bobcat showcased the E10e - an all-electric version of its popular Excavator model E10. The official launch date is yet to be announced for this model. This machine once charged using an external Bobcat Super Charger, can work for around 8 hours. Bobcat is also working on remote control technology using a Smartphone to control the operations of a regular Skid Steer Loader, which can be switched back to manual operation, when needed.
Is the Indian market ready for technologically advanced equipment?
Currently, we see very limited demand for the technologically-advanced equipment in India, especially in the Compact segment, but we expect that, sooner or later, India would also move up the technology curve and catch up with the rest of the world. It is already happening in the emission norms where BS IV would be implemented in 2020. But the good thing is that whenever India is ready we would already have the solutions available.
Doosan Bobcat has maintained its leadership position in the Compact Construction Equipment market with 60% market share in the Skid-Steer Loader category. How is the company positioned with respect to its compact track loaders, compact excavators, all-wheel steer loaders, mini track loaders, backhoes etc?
Bobcat offers a wide range of skid steer and compact track loaders with operating capacity varying from 320 to 1800 kg to meet various application requirements. Besides, we have more than 80 attachments for 450 different applications. Based on demand from the Indian market, we are currently offering five variants of Skid-Steer Loaders: the S70, S450, S590, S650 and S770.
Our flagship S450 model has been the largest selling SSL in the country; this makes us the strongest solution provider in the industry. We are increasing our penetration continuously by educating customers through demonstrations and trainings. The SSL is our core product and we keep enhancing the value of our offerings by prioritizing customer feedback and adapting. This has helped us to remain the first choice of customers and maintain our leadership position.
In the compact excavator market, though we were a late entrant, we have quickly gained customer acceptance. We offer 3 models E27, E37 and E64, and have a very good market share in the 2-3-ton category. E27 and E37 are the two new R-Series models launched early in 2019 to replace E26 and E32.
Backhoe Loader dominates the Indian Compact Construction Equipment due to its versatility and mobility. One of the most important events for us would be our new Bobcat Backhoe loader launch towards the end of the year. We have ambitious plans for the Backhoe loader, and it would be a key product in our aim to be the No.1 Compact Equipment player in India. Besides these, we are continuously evaluating introducing other products in India, should the need arise.
How do you see your world-class products finding a market in India amidst stiff price competitiveness?
As rightly said, India is a value-conscious market. The customers here are very knowledgeable; they will look at the value the product will give, and not just its price. They will evaluate the product holistically - and not just from an initial purchase price perspective.
Bobcat products have always been known for their quality, reliability and durability, which translates into better performance, less failure, and reduced downtime. Reliability and durability help the customer get the best out of the machine for a longer period. This pays back not just the investment but also additional profits to the customer. Plus, Bobcat machines have very good resale value. These are the reasons why we have earned the customer's acceptance and trust.
What is the status of Doosan Bobcat India's (DBIN) backhoe loader factory and what other facilities would it have?
DBIN has acquired a 21-acre manufacturing plant in Chennai, to produce Backhoe loaders. Work is already underway in getting the facility ready for commencing regular production. The new backhoe loader is being designed and developed specifically for Indian working conditions and customer requirements. The commercial launch and sales would commence in the third quarter of 2019.
Our long-term plan is to make the facility a global hub for exporting not only Backhoe Loaders but also our Skid Steer Loaders and Compact Excavators. The idea is to first grow the Backhoe Loader volume to make the factory sustainable and leverage that to localize Skid Steer Loaders and Excavators. We are also looking at developing Engineering and Design talent and become a Center of Excellence in R&D to support our growth plans.
What potential does Doosan Bobcat see for its products in the Indian market?
India is one of the largest economies with a very good growth rate. It is expected to overtake the US and become the second largest economy after China by 2030. The country will see high growth and increasing urbanization as the rural population migrates to urban areas. This will lead to a lot of infrastructure development like smart cities, housing, roads, all of which will drive demand for compact construction equipment. So, without a doubt, India is one of the key markets for Doosan Bobcat.
Doosan Bobcat's vision is to be the No.1 player in the Compact Construction Equipment in India. We have already taken an important first step in that direction by setting up our Backhoe Loader facility in India. As the economy moves towards developed economy, the demand for Skid Steer Loaders and Excavators will increase rapidly as increase in labor cost will drive mechanization of manual work.
From a domestic sales perspective, we are planning to expand our coverage of the Indian market. We are appointing new dealers and adding the manpower to support the channel partners. By 2024 we expect to have 200 dealer outlets.