Skip to main content

Off-highway vehicle market predicted to bounce back after a torrid 2020; only China escaped the pain

Joseph Walker

Jos Walker

Marketing Communications

Jos has over 10 years' experience in B2B marketing, mostly for blue-chip industrial automation companies like Emerson and General Electric. He started working with IA in 2019, and handles a variety of PR and marketing communications-related activities.


  • COVID-19 slashed 2020 growth to 2.6%, but a recovery to 6.5% is predicted for 2021
  • Only China bucked this trend with strong 2020 performance
  • Agricultural vehicles were the only sector to see strong 2020 growth globally
  • Electrified powertrains forecast to account for over 36% of shipments of off-highway vehicles by 2029, but internal combustion to remain dominant in many sectors.

Interact Analysis has released a new report – The Off-Highway Vehicles Market – showing that, due to the impact of the pandemic, market growth slowed to 2.6% in 2020 but will recover to 6.5% in 2021. In the long term, the CAGR between 2019 and 2029 is forecast to be 3.6% in unit shipment terms.


The slow 2020 growth rate saw global sales of construction equipment being hit particularly hard in most regions except China, owing to the closure of construction sites and cancellation of events to control the spread of the virus. But global sales of construction equipment were recovering in the second half of 2020 which is why a recovery of the order of 6.5% for the whole off-highway vehicle sector is predicted for 2021. Stringent anti-virus measures meant that China was the only major region to buck the global downward trend in 2020, and most of its construction and manufacturing activities recovered to a normal level as early as May. Overall, for example, China reported 37% growth in excavator sales, and 40% growth in telehandlers.


Agricultural machinery (which is a new addition and was not covered in the previous version of this report) currently occupies the largest segment of the off-highway market and it was the only category in the sector to have a relatively strong 2020 on a global basis. In spite of COVID-induced factory slow-downs and closures, global farm machinery sales grew in 2020 owing to good weather and strong crop production and the need to replace ageing machinery. Some of the strongest growth figures for the sector include 17% for tractors in North America and 24% for combine harvesters in Europe. The longer-term forecast is expected to be positive for farm machinery as the rate of mechanization increases in developing markets, but Interact Analysis predicts that the overall volume of material handling equipment sales will surpass that of agricultural equipment from 2025 as online shopping, e-commerce and warehouse automation spur the demand for light equipment such as forklift trucks.


Growth rate from 2019 to 2029 for Global Agricultural Equipment


Discussing the prospects for vehicle electrification in the sector, Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, says: “While we predict that over 36% of shipments of off-highway vehicles will be electrified equipment by 2029, the overwhelming majority of these will be smaller vehicles, where battery technology is more suitable. Electrification of compact construction vehicles offers many benefits, minimizing emissions and noise levels, allowing the equipment to be used in enclosed environments such as inside buildings and in other noise-sensitive areas. For many of the environments where material handling typically works, such as airports and logistics centres, there is already a high demand for ‘greener’ equipment. These places will continue to adopt electrification very aggressively. Electric tractors may make inroads in some agricultural scenarios, but agriculture faces other challenges on the pollution front, such as enteric fermentation – the production of methane by farm livestock, next to which pollution from diesel-powered machinery pales into insignificance”. 


About the report


The research for this report was conducted during the period September 2020 – February 2021. During this timeframe considerable work was carried out to generate the most extensive set of data produced on the market to date. The report provides a clear perspective on the prospects for different categories of machinery in the sector, by country, by industry and by powertrain. Multiple interviews were conducted with stakeholders in the off-highway vehicle industry – manufacturers, vendors, and end-users. To learn more, visit


About Interact Analysis


Interact Analysis is an international provider of market research for the Intelligent Automation sector. Our team of experienced industry analysts delivers research into three core sectors: industrial automation, robotics and warehouse automation, and commercial vehicles. Intelligent Automation – which is the integration of artificial intelligence and automation – will change virtually every industry imaginable. This combination enables greater efficiencies, productivity, convenience, and scale. It has the potential to drastically alter the outlook for many traditional industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and automotive as well as to lead to the emergence of entirely new industries. To learn more, visit

Discover the insights you need with Interact Analysis.


Get research based on primary sources for insights into industry changes as and when they happen.


Custom research tailored to your own business dynamics so you can make the right decisions with confidence.


Like this report? Speak to us about analyzing and interpreting the data for your exact business needs.