Baird/RER Rental Equipment Survey: 2019 demand will continue to grow, but at slower rate

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Feb 6, 2019
According to the fourth quarter 2018 Baird/RER Rental Equipment Survey, rental company respondents said they expect to grow their access fleets by just 1 percent in 2019.According to the fourth quarter 2018 Baird/RER Rental Equipment Survey, rental company respondents said they expect to grow their access fleets by just 1 percent in 2019.

Rental equipment demand will see steady growth in 2019, although not at the volumes experienced in 2018, says the fourth quarter Baird/RER Rental Equipment Survey. Survey respondents say they expect rental revenues to increase 6.2 percent, compared to the 7.7 percent actual growth among respondents in 2018.

Respondents to the survey produced by Rental Equipment Register magazine and the Baird research firm also expect rental rates to increase 1.7 percent this year, a more cautious expectation than in 2018.

Average rental growth in the fourth quarter was up 7.7 percent year over year, compared to 6.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018. During the same time period, average rental rates jumped 2.3 percent year over year, up slightly from a 2.2-percent increase in the third quarter. â€śIncreased fleet sizes appear to be driving heightened competitive pressure and surprising rental rate growth, especially for smaller rental companies,” says the report.

Survey commenters said they expect continued strong end-market demand, and that they expected growth to continue this year, although at a more moderate rate. Concerns cited by respondents included rising equipment costs prompted by increases in steel prices and Tier 4-related equipment price bumps.

Survey respondents expect an average of 6.2 percent revenue growth this year, which Baird notes is below the average actual growth from all four 2018 surveys. Respondents expect a 4.2 percent increase in fleet purchases during this year, and expect earthmoving equipment buys to increase 4 percent. Access lift equipment fleets, however, are only expected to grow by 1 percent.

Fourth quarter fleet utilization was between 63 and 66 percent for the sixth consecutive quarter, says Baird, coming in at 63.6 percent, down 130 basis points year over year.  The access equipment utilization rate dropped 64.7 percent from 72.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. On the earthmoving side, the utilization rate dropped to 57.3 percent from 65.6 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

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Several responders cited lengthening manufacturer lead time and price increases. Still, the average fleet size in units grew 5.4 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter.

Fifty-five percent of survey respondents say the expect continued solid growth in construction activity, while 44 percent expect slower growth. Forty-nine percent of respondents say they will spend more on their fleets in 2019, with 20 percent saying these investments will be materially higher.