But most machines sold since the first of 2012 have the Tier 4 Interim engines and are more expensive to purchase and operate. Anticipated higher costs pulled some equipment purchases into 2011, thereby preempting some 2012 sales volume. And a fairly high percentage of equipment users rented equipment in 2012 not only because of economic uncertainty, but also because to avoid purchasing Tier 4 Interim machines.
The 2012 equipment market benefited greatly from re-fleeting by rental companies and dealer rental fleets. Overall equipment markets grew 15.6 percent, with most of that growth in the first half. I estimate rental companies consumed approximately 22 percent of new machinery sold and that dealers that operate rental fleets consumed 23 percent of new equipment sold. Third party rental companies consumed another 7 percent. That makes total equipment consumed for rental fleets of 52 percent. United Rentals alone purchase more than $1.3 billion of new equipment.
It appears that most rental companies shifted their fleet profile toward earthmoving equipment. Fleet spending levels of rental companies for products such as skid steer loaders, rubber tracked loaders, compact excavators and small wheel loaders were up 10 to 14 percent year-over-year from 2011 to 2012.The rough terrain forklift market was up nearly 49 percent. This category includes telescopic boom forklifts.
I also believe the crane market, primarily hydraulic cranes, recovered in 2012 compared with 2011 benefiting from high levels of activity in the energy markets especially on the Gulf Coast. I estimate it grew 26.7 percent driven by aggressive buying by crane rental companies. The articulated truck market started a comeback in early 2012 with a nice double-digit growth rate but came to a virtual halt in the second half and finished the year up 11.1 percent. Most articulated truck producers stopped building their trucks in the third quarter and will probably keep their plants idle through the fourth quarter.