Newcomers Add Choices to CTL Market

May 17, 2024
Kioti, Hyundai, Manitou and others enter the compact track loader market.

The compact track loader category has exploded over the last 15 years, with multiple OEMs adding CTLs to their lines, along with adding an increasing number of sizes, more power, and technology.

Well over a dozen manufacturers offer the versatile tracked machines and the attachments that help increase their utilization.

Everyone knows the traditional powerhouses in CTLs, but let’s track some of the newer entrants to the market since Construction Equipment last examined the width of the market, including Kioti, Manitou, Hyundai, and more.

One somewhat familiar name and another that’s known in the mini excavator market have become one entity, but both offer unique lines of CTLs. Yanmar acquired the more established CTL maker ASV back in 2019 and has since solidified a two-brand strategy.

ASV makes 11 CTL models, counting “Max” versions and dedicated forestry/brush-cutting units. Max refers to enhancements to the cab and controls. Max Series machines feature panoramic, all-glass sides for 360-degree visibility. The all-glass design delivers up to 52% more visible area than the company’s previous cabs.

Max Series loaders were built with the industry’s first roof escape hatch and offer an optional heavy gauge, falling object protective structure (FOPS) level 2 cab rating for beefed up rollover protection and impact resistance.

The cabs are designed with a larger interior—including additional legroom, shoulder room, and foot room—and improved ergonomics to reduce operator fatigue. Control-wise, a 7-inch full-color touchscreen shows vital monitoring specs and the backup camera. The touchscreen can be customized with operator preferences and can integrate with service history and schedules. A dual-throttle capability allows work at a set rpm with dial control and increased rpm with a foot throttle.

Kioti, mostly known for utility tractors, UTVs, and small backhoes, has introduced its first compact track loader. The 74-horsepower machine features a Kioti engine and a wide cabin, available with the standard open station design or an optional enclosed cab with HVAC.

A standard roll-up style door allows for easy entrance and exit, regardless of the position of the bucket or attachment. The overhead door design means operators can work with the door open or closed.

The standard rearview camera, integrated into an LCD digital display, offers an on-demand rear view when traveling in reverse or with the push of a button. Activated with the switch of a button, the standard self-leveling feature automatically keeps the bucket or attachment in a horizontal plane when lifting. Hydraulic pilot joystick controls are meant to enhance feel.

The unit has a 10.8-foot height to hinge pin and a vertical-lift path.

“We have a very spacious cab, so for a big guy like me that has knee problems, this wide cab is nice, it allows me to move and position my feet around to make myself comfortable,” said Justin Moe, Kioti product manager.

“When we released this piece of equipment, we came out with a full range of attachments, so we have the grapples, the breakers, snowblowers, angle brooms and all,” Moe said. “We came standard with auxiliary hydraulics and a 14-pin connector on the machine because we realize these machines have gone from your average pick-and-place machines moving materials around to multitools. A lot of customers use different attachments day in, day out.”

All of Kioti’s attachment controls reside in the joystick.

Controls are a key buying factor and shouldn’t be overlooked when managers evaluate newer brands.

“For operators, it might just be the ability to switch between H-pattern and ISO-pattern joystick controls,” said Dozr’s Tim Forestell. “Or, it could be the ability to connect Bluetooth devices or auxiliary inputs as you want to listen to music while you’re operating the machinery. Lastly, the features you are looking for might just be as simple as bucket height and power.

“All of [these] preferences will also impact your choice of compact track loader,” Forestell said. “Most of the brands have H-pattern and ISO pattern capabilities, the option to enter creep mode, and larger cabs than they did before.”

Manitou, the French parent of Gehl and Mustang by Manitou, has been increasing its brand presence in North America of late, and that has also included a whopping 11 Manitou-branded compact track loaders.

The models appear similar to the Gehl build but have some different features based on the demands of a separate dealer network. They do include the Gehl brand’s IdealTrax automatic track-tensioning system.

At Conexpo last year, Manitou focused on mid-range CTLs, debuting three new VT Series models.

“These models have a capacity of 2,100 pounds to 2,750 pounds,” said Nathan Ryan, skid steer and compact track loader product manager. “We’ve focused on improvements in five main areas: safety, comfort, productivity, simplification, and serviceability. All models are vertical lift and feature a new lift arm design. The driver’s station has also been redesigned with an improved version of our patented folding door. The new cab also offers some of the best visibility on the market thanks to a new window and roof design.”

The breakout force is now 12% higher on average compared to the previous range, and the tank capacity is increased by 14%.

Kubota is another brand with increased presence in the CTL market in recent years. Like Kioti, it is a traditional utility tractor and small backhoe company that has attacked the compact construction market.

Kubota’s latest move also came at Conexpo: the introduction of the SVL75-3 CTL. It is surprising the company has reached Dash 3 after little more than a decade, but this update has a host of new features that take it beyond its predecessor.

The 74.3-horsepower Kubota engine has higher maximum torque than the SVL75-2 it replaces. Its working range features a rated operating capacity of 2,490 pounds at 35% or 3,557 pounds at 50%; 6,191 pounds of breakout force; and a hinge pin height of 122.7 inches.

The SVL75-3’s hydraulic system features an Advanced Multifunction Valve (AMV) that helps to ensure smooth movement of all hydraulic functions when operated simultaneously allowing operators to run the auxiliary hydraulics, bucket, and loader arm functions at the same time with a lower risk of stalling.

The Electronic Travel Torque Management System is designed to enable operators to work faster and with more power by constantly monitoring the load of the machine to optimally control hydraulic pump output according to the load, reducing engine stalls for smoother operation, Kubota says.

Updated travel features include faster two-speed travel and the Advanced Auto Downshift system from Kubota compact excavators that automatically downshifts from high to low gear while making turns, immediately providing the maximum amount of torque needed when exiting a turn. Operators also can change their travel response sensitivity with the choice of three track response settings: mild, normal, and quick.

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.