The mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) rental market is still booming, with the worldwide fleet nearing 1.5 million units, but uncertainty clouds longer-term outlooks, according to the latest market analysis from the International Powered Access Federation. In the U.K., revenue per unit fell by 3 percent in 2018 and was overtaken by France for the first time, after French revenue per unit rose 5 percent in 2017.
While persisting Brexit uncertainty in the U.K., the U.S.-China trade war and presidential elections in 2020 muddy the waters, markets are booming in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, where MEWP rental grew very strongly in the past year, by 8 to 10 percent.
IPAF’s Global Powered Access Rental Market Report is exclusively compiled by leading research intelligence company DuckerFrontier, formerly Ducker Worldwide. The report gives essential business insight and offers a unique opportunity to drill down into certain key markets using a series of economic indicators and measurements not available anywhere else. Last year, IPAF and Ducker Worldwide won a European Rental Association award for business intelligence for these reports.
For the past two years, IPAF’s Powered Access Rental Market Report was positive across the board, with the U.S. in particular exceeding expectations and experiencing steady growth. The European MEWP rental market also sustained impressive growth across most key indicators in all 10 countries under study. In the U.K. and some Nordic countries, however, growth reached a plateau and outlooks were more pessimistic.
The European MEWP rental market as a whole began to show growth in 2015. This trend sustained in 2016 and 2017, with France recording double-digit growth in 2017. This trend continued in continental Europe through 2018, with France and Italy experiencing 7 percent annual market growth, the Netherlands growing 8 percent, and Germany and Spain growing by 9 and 10 percent respectively.
In 2018, the European MEWP rental market revenue was worth an estimated €2.75 billion (about U.S. $3.3 billion), the market having grown significantly in 2018 (6 percent). The overall economic situation was good, and both construction and non-construction sectors generated increased demand.
In the U.K., continued intense market competition and uncertainty linked to Brexit forced rental rates down slightly (-2 percent). In Nordic countries, especially Denmark and Finland, rental companies also faced strong overall pressure on rental rates, which remained static. MEWP rental still outstripped construction growth in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the U.K.
The level of investment remains significant, as rental companies focused on both expanding and renewing their MEWP fleets with more specialist, sophisticated and generally greener equipment. Investment is expected to stabilize from 2019 onwards The European MEWP rental market in particular continues a shift towards greener machines.
The market outlook in 2019 and beyond shows that uncertainty prevails, however, particularly in the U.K., where Brexit is far from resolved, and the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S. is starting to impact the exports of some European manufacturers, particularly in Germany. Also in the U.S., the 2020 Presidential election is also an unknown.
Nonetheless, the report shows that 2018 was another great year for the U.S. market, with stronger-than-expected growth. Double-digit growth in MEWP rental revenue was recorded and total value exceeded $10 billion. The level of cross-hire increased in 2018, caused by strong ongoing market demand.
Sustained fleet expansion continued in 2018 and total MEWP fleet size now exceeds 600,000 units in the U.S. However, in light of the longer-term uncertainty, most U.S. MEWP rental companies expect to scale back fleet expansion in the next few years.
In 2018, the worldwide rental MEWP fleet size reached 1.47 million units, up from 1.35 million at the end of 2017. Strong growth in Asia is being driven mainly by China. Growth was reported in all countries and regions. The 2018 report also contains a special China market focus, which indicates almost exponential growth. In 2018, the Chinese MEWP rental market value was $495 million, or €583 million. By all measures, it was a good year: Several major projects started during the second half of 2017 and positively impacted market growth in 2018. Outlooks remain positive for the next few years, despite challenges linked to increased competition and the fact that downward pressure on the economy may be reflected in the MEWP rental market.
The Powered Access Global Rental Market Report is compiled each year by DuckerFrontier exclusively for IPAF. The report is compiled based on interviews with rental companies and other industry experts globally. The report is available to purchase in full via www.ipaf.org/reports, while last year’s version can now be purchased at a discount and older versions downloaded free from www.ipaf.org/reports