Ten years ago, in 1990 there were 520 new mobile and crawler cranes sold in France. It is hard to envisage those numbers being reached again for a long time, but the market is now reasonably healthy and stable at around 270 a year, having recovered from the collapse of the market in 1992/93. Sales have risen steadily since 1995, when 100 units were delivered in France. In 1998 they reached 267; in 1999 there were 272 wheeled and crawler mounted construction cranes; and this year the major manufacturers expect the numbers to be broadly the same.

Jean-Marc Fleury, general manager of Terex PPM, and Philippe Dumas, Grove France’s crane sales director agree that sales for 2000 will again be around the 270 to 280 mark. “It will be about the same as last year, or maybe a little more positive,” says Fleury. We think it will be around the same level for 2000 and 2001,” says Dumas.

An analysis of the market shows the dominance of all-terrain cranes, not surprisingly, with 234 units delivered in 1999. In terms of units, Terex PPM and Liebherr share market leadership in ATs, with about 29% each. By value, however, Liebherr is clearly ahead because three quarters of Terex PPM’s deliveries were cranes under 40t capacity. In fact, Terex PPM’s 35t-rated ATT 400 was France’s outright favourite mobile crane in 1999.

Liebherr’s best seller in France last year was its LTM 1030/2 (35t capacity) but it also saw a third of its sales in the 80t and 90t category with its LTM 1080/1 and 1090/2. This was a market segment dominated by Liebherr.

Behind PPM and Liebherr, Mannesmann Dematic and Grove vie for third place. In 1999 Demag just shaded Grove with 16% of the AT market to Grove’s 15%. Demag owes much of its success to its compact 25t and 40t models, the AC 25 and the AC 40-1, which accounted for more than half its sales in France last year. Little wonder, therefore, that alongside its four new cranes Mannesmann Dematic is finding room on its stand at Intermat this month for these two hot sellers.

Grove, though not dominant in any single category, did sell more cranes rated over 100t than any of its competitors, however, with two 180t GMK 5180s (including one to Ayala) and two GMK 6250s.

The remaining 11% of the AT market in 1999 was taken by Tadano Faun, with its sales spread fairly evenly across its ATF range.

As well as the 234 ATs sold in France last year, there were 30 rough terrain cranes sold. More than half of these were by Terex PPM. Taking AT and RT sales together gives PPM a 32% share of France’s wheeled mobile crane market in 1999 to Liebherr’s 25%. The remaining RTs were sold by Tadano Faun and Sennebogen. Grove, however, has since got back some of the RT market having already this year delivered two units of its new RT 530E.

Tadano Faun’s total sales of fewer than 35 cranes in 1999 is down on its strong 1998 showing but still up on the sales of previous years.

Last year saw just six crawler cranes delivered in France. At the heavier end, Mannesmann Dematic sold a pair of CC 2800s and Liebherr an LR 1400. Sennebogen delivered a couple of smaller crawlers, and SpanDeck shipped over a Mantis telescopic crawler from the USA.

Other crawler manufacturers are optimistic about their prospects in France.

Robert Law, sales director of IHI’s European distributor AGD Equipment Sales, says: “We are noticing the French market is showing signs of improvement. We have an IHI CCH500-3 on rent with possible option to purchase there, through our dealer Comeca.

Piling companies are the main users of [crawler] cranes in France and they seem to be busy at the moment which indicates that there are a lot of construction projects about to start there. We are hopeful of selling at least one or two cranes in the French market this year.” Manitowoc also believes that the French market “will continue to improve gradually through 2000”. One market segment Manitowoc has found fruitful is French contractors who buy equipment to use on projects outside France. One example cited by Manitowoc’s director of international sales, John Wessel, is the barge-mounted 888 Ringer that GTM bought in 1998 to work on the 3.5km Rion-Antirion bridge now being built in Greece. Wessel believes that this project will show European contractors the benefit of doing bridge work with barge-mounted crawlers rather than working at long radii with land-based telescopic rigs.

Manitowoc’s French distributor, Simarep, also sells into other Francophone countries; two 2250 Series-3 cranes were delivered to Algeria’s petroleum ministry in March.

The balance of the 272 total crane sales in 1999 is made up by a couple of miscellaneous truck-mounted units manufactured by companies that do not report to the French organisation MTPS. In addition, the figures do not include industrial pick and carry cranes such as the Shuttlelift 5550 bought by Rouen-based rental company Hivet during the year.