‘Skid-steer loaders can do much more than backhoe loaders’

Manjunath S,
General Manager,
Sales and Marketing,
Doosan Bobcat


With the introduction a new range of skid-steer loaders, mini-excavators and backhoe loaders, Doosan Bobcat looks forward to educate customers and enhance customer acceptability. Manjunath S, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Doosan Bobcat, shares insights on the company’s growth plans

What has been the customer experience for your products in the Indian market?

In India, most  customers prefer backhoe loaders over skid-steer loaders. backhoe loaders were introduced in the Indian market 40 years ago. Our company is creating a market for skid-steer loader, not only in India but also in the US, Europe or other developed countries. Skid-steer loaders are the highest number of compact equipment sold today and not the backhoe loader.

For the last 15 years, we have been selling skid-steer loaders. The focus has been enhanced from 2015 and we are really going in a big way to create the market in terms of demonstrating various attachments based on customer needs. We are doing good on the sales front. The word is spreading. Backhoe loaders are already present everywhere. You can see them everywhere from a petrol pump to a bus stand. This is because the operator who is buying it for his business venture does not know that there is a piece of equipment that can replace his backhoe loader. While skid-steer loaders cannot completely replace backhoe loader because a backhoe loader can bear seven ton, while a skid-steer loaders does not necessarily do seven ton or come close to that tonnage but It can do many more jobs than those done by a backhoe loader.

Skid-steer loaders can skid on their own axis and they do not require a turning radius unlike a car or backhoe loader which does require a turning radius. This enables many applications because of its maneuverability and makes it an ideal replacement for a backhoe loader.

What are your new products? What are the markets in which you are operating currently?

Our mini excavator was launched five years ago in India. The company has attained No. 2 position in the market in below 5 tonne excavators category.  E27 R -Series Mini Excavator is the latest generation excavator launch to replace the existing E 26. It’s salient features would be ease of use, economy with respect to the Total Cost of Operations (TCO), reliability and operator comfort. We would be replacing E-32 mini excavators with a  new range of E-37 mini excavators in February 2019.  We have sold 200-plus out of 1,000 machine market size and achieved 20-22% market share in below 5 tonne excavators because of reliability, TCO and performance. The market is competitive having 7 to 8 major players.


Are there any telematics inbuilt in mini excavators and skid-steer loaders?

Skid-steer loader does not have much of telematics as it caters to small operators and is equipped with a microprocessor to diagnose service-related errors. The service engineer can take up troubleshooting measures based on the diagnosis of errors through the microprocessor inbuilt with mini excavator and skid-steer loader.


What is the current market scenario and your company’s growth prospects?

Backhoe loader will be replaced by skid-steer loader. We are in the market creation phase for skid-steer loader by demonstrating various attachments in different applications. In spite of having local manufacturers selling the product at 25% cheaper cost, we are still the market leader because our products offer longevity, reliability, performance and trouble-free machines.


Tell us about the efficiency of engines used in the skid-steer loader and mini-excavator.

We are using Kubota engines, which are highly reliable, fuel economical, easy on maintenance and economical as well. There is no such need felt for electronic machines.

Despite the utility of mini excavator, 2, 3 and 5 tonne requirement backhoe loader is being considered by customers irrespective of the quantum of job. However, backhoe loader with 76 Horsepower capacity requires minimum 5 litre per hour of diesel consumption, which is a huge cost burden as compared to mini excavators which offer a saving of 2 litre per hour.

In narrow bylanes in rural areas, pipelines, where backhoe loader cannot be used, mini excavator as a utility machine has good prospects but requires awareness about business prospects.


What is the price disparity and acceptability of the machines?

As far as price disparity is concerned, while a backhoe loader that have a landed cost of Rs 27 lakh consumes 5 litres of diesel, a E-27 skid-steer loader costing Rs 19 lakh consumes 3 litres of diesel, which is the running cost difference, besides the TCO and maintenance cost advantage of E-27.

This has contributed to its popularity in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and is gaining popularity in the North-East regions like Aizawl in Mizoram. The product needs word of mouth publicity as most of the operators willing to become entreprenuers prefer to go by strong referrals about the product.They would like to know the business prospects.


Tell us about the success of the machines in the public sector.   

We have 80 machines working in Chennai Municipal Corporation on an annual maintenance contract (AMC) basis and first 40 machines have crossed 8 years of operation and are working very well.

Though the government is funding the projects, the irony in public sector is the pricing issue because most of the municipalities mostly rely on L1 tendering process, which impacts the buying potential and hence good quality machines are not purchased based on the customised requirements. The L1 tender process leads to buying of low-cost machines from local players which might go defunct after few years.

Our products are tailormade and cater to domestic and international markets. The government need to incentivize make in India products considering the quality offered by domestic players like us considering the scenario that forex has grown 20 %.

Skid-steer loader has gained reputation
due to its performance. We have supplied 38 machines in Patna, Bihar. Though there is a tender of 620 units from the Andhra Pradesh government, there is a challenge of pricing as the L1 cost process most of the time does not match quality parameters.

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