Equipment manufacturer Bobcat is using its relationship with equipment rental company Sunbelt Rentals to boost electric equipment adoption.
Bobcat is gathering feedback from its customers and from Sunbelt’s rental customers to hone its electric approach and provide consumers with equipment that meets environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals, Collin Boring, electrification and innovation product manager at Bobcat, told Equipment Finance News during Utility Expo 2023 in Louisville, Ky. on Wednesday.
“Sunbelt’s our No. 1 customer. They have millions of customers that tell them what they want, and we listen to what Sunbelt tells us,” Boring said. Sunbelt Rentals has “customers that are looking for alternative fuels and electrification. They can bid and work on jobs that have ESGs and dedicated amounts of the fleet that have to be electric, hydrogen or something other than diesel. That’s where we’re able to get direct customer feedback.”
Bobcat, a subsidiary of multinational equipment conglomerate Doosan, signed on as a supplier of electric equipment for Sunbelt Rentals, a subsidiary of the London-based Ashtead Group, in January 2022, according to a Bobcat release. The manufacturer began delivering its T7X compact track loaders to Sunbelt locations on Sept. 29, 2022, according to a Sunbelt release.
Improving electric equipment adoption
Electrification is taking hold in the equipment industry. Companies such as equipment renter Ryder System and equipment manufacturer New Holland continue to target the rental market for electric equipment adoption.
Bobcat has sent Sunbelt 100 T7Xs over the past year to get the equipment into customers’ hands and facilitate more feedback, Randi Bakalar, corporate communications manager at Bobcat, told EFN during the expo.
The agreement with Sunbelt helps Bobcat overcome a major obstacle to electric equipment adoption: proving that the equipment can satisfy customers’ needs, Boring said.
“It’s going to take some time to prove it out in the field, and that’s why the rental industry is going to be popular for electric equipment,” he said. “People are going to want to rent it for a month, five months, a year, and then say, ‘We’re comfortable with this, we’re not afraid to charge it, and we know what to do, so let’s buy it.’”
Sunbelt Rentals ranked second behind United Rentals in North American equipment rental volume in 2022, posting rental revenue of $7.6 billion and a 26.7% rental volume increase year over year, according to the 2023 RER 100 published by the Rental Equipment Register.