The growth rate of skids is too low when compared to the rest of the world
How do you see the market for skid-steer loaders evolving in India in the next few years?
Skid steers were introduced the Indian market around 1990s. It’s been 30+ years and volumes are hardly to be excited about. Customer awareness on the utility of skids is extremely low and they prefer backhoe loaders over the skids. I do not foresee much improvement in volumes of skid steers in the near future.

What factors do you believe are driving the growth of the skid-steer loaders market in India?
The growth rate of skids is too low when compared to the rest of the world. In a country like India, there is a market of approximately 500 skids in a year against 35,000 to 40,000 backhoe loaders. Skids are the highest selling construction equipment overseas while in India it is backhoes. Skids must be accepted as the most versatile and most important piece of equipment on a job site. Till that happens growth shall continue to remain sluggish.

How would you describe the demand for skid-steer loaders compared to other types of construction equipment in the Indian market?
As highlighted above, demand for skids are extremely low in India. A significant part of production in India is exported to Africa, Middle East, Russia, etc. The demand for even low volume products like graders, soil compactors, etc. is better than skids.

Explain in detail the various products on offer in this segment. What are its salient features?
While the world has moved on to tracked skid loaders, India is still struggling with wheeled versions. Most of the skid manufacturers in India are making entry-level models of 49 HP and 75 HP. It is only Bobcat that is offering the entire range of standard and high flow skids, but they are all imported and not manufactured in India. The main feature in skids is option of using several attachments. Skids are designed to work with various attachments making it very versatile equipment for any job site.

How are IoT-enabled features gaining importance in skid-steer loaders? What is the trend?
IoT is primarily being used for fleet management, popularly known as Telematics in India. They provide you information on running hours, fuel consumption, productivity, operator efficiency, etc. depending on the modules/service provider selected by the customer. Data has become a very important part of all operations and provide critical information, which can help you reduce operation costs, prevent breakdowns and measure productivity.

Can you share any insights into the preferences of Indian customers when it comes to selecting skid-steer loaders, particularly regarding compactness and efficiency?
Indian customers have a penchant to go for the products that are visible. Bobcat being the industry leader, has largest equipment base and has good visibility making it customers’ first choice. Other players get somewhere of the market primarily on the price. I have hardly come across any retail customer comparing or studying product features and advantages.

Price and brand are the only criteria for selecting equipment. Large construction companies usually compare the technical and product capabilities before making the purchase, but now they hardly buy such small equipment and prefer to rent them.