From dealing with price-conscious Indian consumers to addressing the demand for the equipment in India, Hyunsoo (HS) Kim, Director – Commercial, Doosan Bobcat India Pvt. Ltd. talks about numerous issues including the company’s new backhoe loaders and Doosan’s long-term plan of expansion in the country.

How do you look at the future market for backhoe loaders?
The future market for backhoe loaders is bright much of it can be attributed to the number of government initiatives. The Government of India has ongoing projects which focus on rural road development, housing for everyone, major projects on supplying piped water supply to every household etc. The utility of a backhoe loader makes it one of the most sought out construction equipment. And the fact that it can be easily driven from one place to another without the need for additional transportation also adds to its popularity.

With a slower economic growth this year, what will be the impact on construction and the backhoe loader markets?
We are staring at a depreciation of 30-35 per cent as far as the backhoe loader market is concerned. The depreciation has been a result of unsold inventories in real estate. Besides that new real estate projects are coming up widening the gap between demand and supply. Government delay in paying contractors for projects has also added to the woes.

The impact of this depreciation will be short lived and the various government initiatives including the ones focused on the growth of rural India will help the economy to bounce back. Keeping in view of the prevailing circumstances and future possibilities we will go ahead with our launch of the backhoe loader and ensure maximum visibility of our products. This will allow us to gain the market share when the market rebounds

India is the world’s third-largest market for compact construction equipment. What are your expectations from launching the backhoes in India?
We want to be a part of India’s success story. As the nation moves towards becoming a developed nation we are keen to expand our product offering in the compact construction equipment market. With rapid urbanisation and increasing labour costs the demand for Backhoe Loader is bound to increase. It is bound to become the key product with an annual industry size of 40,000 units. Globally we are one of key players in the compact equipment market and the idea is to repeat the story in India as well.

Experts opine that the Backhoe loader market is already loaded in India and the duration required to break even is way too long. There was a similar belief in the Middle East but Bobcat has been able to break into the top tier within two years of launch. Although India is a different market, we believe that as long as the product is reliable and productive, the customers are willing to support. We are confident that we will replicate our success in backhoe loader in India as well with the help of a well-designed product backed by good commercial strategy.

Give us a few specifications of your upcoming backhoe loaders. What should the consumers expect from this product?
Fuel efficiency, performance, durability, operator comfort and low operating cost were the key focus areas in consideration while designing and developing our B900 Backhoe Loader.

Some of the highlight features in our B900 Backhoe loader are best in class digging depth, higher dumping height, maximum torque and excellent ground clearance.
In addition to fuel efficient engine, hydraulic system has been designed to ensure low power consumption from engine by redirecting excess hydraulic flow to tank when application doesn’t require more flow, resulting in low fuel consumption.

Another unique feature is hydraulic distribution box. This minimises hose movements in backhoe hydraulics and increase hose durability by avoiding hose rubbing and reducing the hose length. Large cooling system with high efficiency fans have been provided for increased cooling efficiency for uninterrupted operation.

A cushioning cylinder has been provided for boom and swing. This ensures smoother operation while reducing the noise and vibration, which also increases the durability of major components.

How is the company handling the market aspect of Indian customers being very price-conscious?
The total cost of ownership plays a big role in the buying process. It is a combination of regular maintenance, right-priced parts, fuel efficiency, quality components which results in longer life of machine and the durability factor.

It also includes components such as offering financing with the best interest rates. In all, the whole cumulative offering becomes the total cost of ownership. The after sales services such as parts availability and maintenance become crucial to the customer. Downtime of the machine affects the customer’s overall productivity and with our dealer network, we support the customer with quick resolution of their query.

The growing economy with more requirements for infrastructure development will accelerate the demand for mini excavators in the global market. How are you preparing for this demand in India?
Backhoe loader is one of the most versatile machines. In construction sites, the preference is for multi-purpose machines due to requirement of different job applications. The backhoe loader also comes with higher engine power options, 4-wheel drive and productive mode of operations which improves the pace of work.

It can be driven on road and within sites faster, thus making the transportability of the machine better. We still feel that backhoe loader will have significant edge over excavators and wheel loaders and remain the most popular and largest selling construction equipment.

With India moving towards becoming a developed economy, development of rural areas and increase in urbanisation and labour cost will be inevitable.
Hyunsoo (HS) Kim,
Director – Commercial,
Doosan Bobcat India Pvt. Ltd.

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