Caterpillar has decided to end a 6-year-old strategic alliance with German manufacturer Wacker Neuson, phasing out the Wacker Neuson-made mini excavators that have carried the Caterpillar brand under that agreement, and begin producing its own line of the machines.
The alliance, which involved machines of 3 tons or less, is scheduled to end in May 2018.
“Wacker Neuson has been an excellent alliance partner, providing Caterpillar high quality mini excavators in this smaller size class for the past several years,” said Korey Coon, a Caterpillar general manager overseeing mini hydraulic excavators and small track-type tractors. “The market for these products has grown, and we believe that internally designing, manufacturing and distributing these excavators will provide an even higher value to our customers, dealers and shareholders.”
Caterpillar will shift design and production of hydraulic excavators under 3 tons to its Building Construction Products Division, although it was unclear Thursday whether the company had decided which of the division’s facilities would handle the machines. The division has plants in Clayton and Sanford, North Carolina, among other locations.
Caterpillar says its focus on growing its global mini excavator business will capitalize on the design and manufacturing expertise developed in producing its larger mini excavators.
Current models manufactured by Wacker Neuson that will be phased out in mid-2018 include the 301.4C, 301.7D, 301.7D CR, 302.2D and 302.4D. Both Caterpillar and Wacker Neuson said one other model, the 302.7D CR, will phase out at the end of 2019, as will the 300.9D if the companies agree to do so later.
Both companies said spare parts and technical support will remain available for the affected models, and warranties will be honored. Other products sold and serviced by Wacker Neuson at Cat dealers and rental stores will not be affected.
Wacker Neuson’s announcement made it clear that negotiations to end the strategic alliance were “initiated by Caterpillar.”