Aerial platform rental fleets rise; more growth forecast

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Updated Jun 19, 2018
Genie is preparing for future ANSI standards with its XC lineup of aerial work platforms. Photo by Don McLoudGenie is preparing for future ANSI standards with its XC lineup of aerial work platforms. Photo by Don McLoud

The U.S. aerial lift rental market continued its three-year rise, posting 4 percent rental fleet growth in 2017 over 2016, with more growth likely in the next two years, according to the 2018 Powered Access Rental Market Report.

Leading the rise are scissor lifts, which remain the dominant type of mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) equipment in the country, says the report compiled for the International Powered Access Federation by Ducker Worldwide.

Global MEWP rental fleets posted 8 percent growth in 2017, rising to 1.35 million. Europe, the next largest market, saw 4 percent rental fleet growth, the same as the United States.

The U.S. rental fleet size has grown from 530,525 MEWPs in 2015 to 583,239 at the end of 2017. The report indicates “positive and sustainable growth” will continue because of “strong demand for MEWP equipment as compared to supply.” It predicts 2018 will also see 4 percent growth.

MEWP rental revenue in the United States has also grown steadily since 2010 after posting a 24 percent loss in 2009 during the Great Recession, when revenues sank to $6 billion. Rental revenues rose 5 percent in 2017 over 2016, to $9.4 billion. The report predicts two more years of 5 percent revenue growth, reaching $10.3 billion in 2019.

After that, the market outlook becomes murky. That’s because three-quarters of rental applications for MEWPs are coming from the construction sector. “Though activity is currently very fast-growing,” the report says of construction conditions, “the overall construction sector outlooks become more uncertain from 2019 onwards.”

The report says rental companies will take a cautious attitude toward their fleets, expanding them only to meet existing demand yet still able to raise rates, “but many intend to begin reducing their investment levels from 2019.”

Of the 651,000 MEWPs in North American rental fleets, 378,000 are scissor lifts. After that come straight booms at 137,800 and articulated booms at 117,400. The remaining 17,800 MEWPs consist of vertical lifts, vertical masts and vehicle-mounted booms. Excluded from the numbers are low-level access equipment under 10 feet high, telescopic handlers, forklifts, cranes and mast-climbing work platforms.

The U.S. MEWP rental market is the largest in the world, making up 43 percent of the total world rental fleet. Next is Europe, at 27 percent; Asia-Pacific, at 21 percent; Canada, at 5 percent; and Latin America, including Mexico, at 4 percent.