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Ponsse moves forward in Swedish forwarder market

A total of 300 forwarders were registered in Sweden 2016, a 5 percent increase on 2015. Ponsse increased its market share the most whereas John Deere went the other direction according to figures from the Swedish Transport Agency and compiled by SkogsForum.

Of the 300 new forwarders registered in Sweden 2016 by the Swedish Transport Agency, Ponsse increased its market share the most (data compilation SkogsForum).

Of the 300 new forwarders registered in Sweden 2016 by the Swedish Transport Agency, Ponsse increased its market share the most (data compilation SkogsForum).

As a mature saturated market, competition is fierce in the Swedish forest machine market. According to figures for registered forwarders over 8-tonne payload from the Swedish Transport Agency and compiled by SkogsForum, a Swedish web-based forest community social platform, 300 forwarders were registered in Sweden 2016. This represents a 5 percent increase on 2015. Finnish manufacturer Ponsse increased its market share the most whereas US-headed John Deere went the other direction.

Model changes behind the dent in the curve?

– Essentially, the only option for manufacturers’ looking to grow market share is by taking it from another manufacturer, remarked Torbjörn Johnsen, SkogsForum.

Notable is that John Deere, market leader in terms of registrations, has lost market share with 18 fewer machines registered than in 2015. Komatsu, EcoLog, Rottne and Logset had decreases while Gremo and Tigercat increased. However, Ponsse is the largest mover with 55 forwarders registered, up 30 on 2015.

Several of the manufacturers have made extensive model updates during 2016, and some are in the midst of new model launches. The transition to new models seems to be a contributing factor to John Deere’s market drop. The new G-series was launched early in 2016 but it was only a forwarder with the product upgrade: 19-ton forwarder John Deere 1910G. The big G-forwarder sold well throughout the year, while some of the previous generation of the E series, particularly 810 that has not yet been launched in the G version and the 2015 bestseller 1510, fared worse.

Less to load more

According to Johnsen, the size distribution of the registered forwarders shows fewer thinning forwarders were registered 2016 compared to 2015 while significantly more of the heaviest final felling forwarders over the same period. And although 2016 saw an overall 5 percent increase in the number of forwarder registrations, the long term trend is slow decline of larger machines.

– The trend has been towards larger and larger forwarders, which means that a smaller number of machines are needed to get out the same annual timber volume, said Johnsen.

Canadian equipment manufacturer Tigercat, registered five forwarders in 2016, of which two of them are real heavyweights with 25 tonne load capacity. Tigercat, who acquired Swedish manufacturer Hemek in 2000, has mainly been used as scarification carrier in Sweden but now there are some “monster forwarders” in operation taking out wood from final felling in the Värmland region.

Despite Woodtiger's "hi-vis" colour, the small forwarder market in Sweden is statistically invisible.

Despite Woodtiger’s “hi-vis” colour, the small forwarder market in Sweden is statistically invisible.

However, as Johnsen points out, the decline in thinning forwarders is not because there is less thinning to be carried out. Instead, there is a lack of comprehensive statistics on the number of sold forwarders with payload under 8 tonnes, which means that the small forwarder market is statistically invisible. Some forwarders are light enough to be towed on car trailers behind pick-up trucks instead of a low-loader.

– We estimate that the annual market for small forwarders is at least 50 machines per annum and is a growing market. Thus it is likely that the demand for small forwarders is at the expense of thinning forwarder sales in the 9-10 tonne segment, said Johnsen.

Volvo engines going forward in 2017?

Stringent engine emission requirements has, it seems, been a driver behind comprehensive model upgrades. EcoLog replaced the Mercedes engines it had in its harvesters to engines from Volvo Penta last year and Rottne launched a series of forwarders with Volvo engines for the Russian market.

– It is no wild guess that we are likely to see a blue forwarder for the Swedish market with Volvo engines in 2017, remarked Torbjörn Johnsen.

Undoubtedly, something to keep an eye out for in the upcoming Elmia Wood forest trade show in June.

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