Capital Equipment News

Leveraging its strong automotive network and success in southern Africa, with over 40 000 vehicles sold since its inception in October 2004, Mahindra South Africa, a fully-owned subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra of India, has expanded into the local construction equipment market with the launch of its EarthMaster backhoe loader, Capital Equipment News can report.

Launched at bauma CONEXPO AFRICA 2018, it will challenge for a share of the entry-level tier of the highly-contested local backhoe loader market.

Mahindra Bauma EarthMaster Backhoe Loader 03 2018 001

The backhoe loader, popularly known as the TLB in local circles, remains the most prominent piece of equipment in South Africa and southern Africa at large. Together with the skid-steer, the two solutions constitute almost half of the annual sales of a nearly 5 000-6 000 unit construction equipment market. The TLB is regarded as the workhorse of the local industry and with its versatility, it’s a unit that affords small and upcoming contractors the much-needed stepping stone into the construction contracting business.

However, it is also worthwhile to note that this is an overtraded market with close to 20 suppliers jostling for a share of the market and the dominance of some premium makers such as JCB and Caterpillar in this segment is just hard to beat. This is exacerbated by the shift towards other seemingly cost-effective solutions such as the compact excavator and the compact loader in some of the traditional applications where the TLB has always been regarded as the ultimate solution.

Despite the overtraded nature of the market, Pavan Nair, GM New Business Development at Mahindra South Africa, is optimistic that the timing of the launch is perfect, with the market signalling strong growth prospects following an end to a three-year downward cycle in 2017. “South Africa, and several other southern African countries are set to enjoy a favourable economic spell this year, and we are convinced that this is the perfect time for us to explore new business units,” he says.

Apart from seemingly favourable market conditions, Avinash Bapat CFO of Mahindra South Africa, tells Capital Equipment News that the company’s knowledge of the market will also play a huge factor in the quick growth of its construction division. Mahindra SA is celebrating its 14th year in South Africa and already has an established network of dealers in all nine provinces of the country, housed in comprehensive facilities that handle sales, service and spare parts.

“With 60 dealerships, in cities and towns across southern Africa, Mahindra has a growing regional footprint that is moving ever deeper into these communities as we accelerate our drive to offer value-for-money products and services to local customers,” says Avinash.

Already exporting its vehicles into other regional countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland and Namibia, Mahindra South Africa has achieved significant growth in since its establishment in October 2004, with about 40 000 vehicles already operating in the field.

A key feature of the EarthMaster, according to Avinash Jha, Export & Business Planning manager at Mahindra & Mahindra in India, is its banana boom, which offers 7% more reach compared with the conventional straight boom stick.

“The banana boom is designed with minimum welding points to increase strength and durability. As an individual component, the banana boom can take up to 60 kN force, making it one of the strongest booms in this segment,” says Jha. He adds that the banana shape gives the machine 15% more dig depth at 4,22 m compared with other backhoe loaders with the traditional straight boom.

“The banana boom achieves a higher dig depth without compromising on the end forces and utilisation of the high pressure,” explains Jha. “The boom is designed to support hydraulic system pressures as high as 250 bars, which is one of the highest among competitive offerings in this class size.”

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