Lai See

CLSA unearths the truth about made-in-China excavators

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 1:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 1:42am

CLSA appear to have taken the expression "kick the tyres" to a new level in one of its recent research reports. China is the biggest market in the world for construction machinery. However, the market share of international players in this market declined from a combined 90 per cent pre-2008 to 50 per cent in 2011. Nevertheless, made-in-China excavators were believed to be inferior to those made overseas.

So in an effort to uncover quality gaps between different brands of excavator made in China, CLSA put 13 excavators, across four weight types, through what it calls a "punishing machinery match-off." The exercise comprising six experienced operators, who put in 185 hours over a two week period at a test site in Jiangsu province, measured productivity, fuel economy and durability.

The test concludes that the market perception that Chinese excavators are inferior to those made overseas is incorrect. While Caterpillar came out on top, Chinese firm Sany offered "competitive models with superior performance and fuel efficiency to Korean and Japanese brands in the medium 20-24.9 tonne class." So if you need to buy an excavator you know who to speak to.


Submarine volcanoes matter

Our recent item on Arctic ice attracted some response, most of it, it has to be said, critical. However, we had one response from Professor Wyss Yim who sent us a piece on the climate impact of the October 2011 El Hierro submarine volcanic eruption. The piece appeared in Imperial Engineer, which is produced by Imperial College London. Yim is an earth scientist who, after a brief period at Imperial College, taught until his retirement at the University of Hong Kong.

The El Hierro volcano is some 60 metres below the surface of the water in the Canary Archipelago of the northwest coast of Africa. It erupted on October 19, 2011 and continued until early March 2012, releasing an estimated 320 cubic metres of lava and raising the temperature of the seawater by some 18 degrees Celsius. This, according to Yim, had several effects which were to impact significantly on the weather.

It sped up the tropical Atlantic currents, sending warmer water northwards while at the same time warming the atmosphere above, causing the air pressure to decline. This, argues Yim, accounted for much of the extreme weather events in the North Atlantic Basin in 2012, which included the wettest summer in England and Wales in 100 years, the most severe drought in central North America since 1895, an active hurricane season on the US east coast, and record low sea ice in the Arctic ocean.

Yim concludes that in looking back over these events, the activity of submarine volcanoes has been "grossly underestimated" as a trigger of weather-related events and patterns. He further concludes: "It is unnecessary to attribute such weather-related events or patterns of anthropogenic global warming."


Many more years of emissions

ExxonMobil is predicting carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuel to rise until 2030, when they will level off as natural gas replaces dirtier fuels such as coal, Reuters reports. The forecast, part of Exxon's annual global report, says energy demand will rise by 30 per cent over the next 30 years with fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal contributing 80 per cent of the supply. More than 90 per cent of this demand is expected to come from China and other developing countries. China's emissions of carbon dioxide are not expected to decline until after 2025. Electricity demand will be the main driver of growth, increasing 80 per cent from 2010 levels, Exxon says.

It also believes that hybrid vehicles will account for 40 per cent of the car market, compared with 1 per cent now.


Morgan Stanley sings

Morgan Stanley's Directors' Choir gave its 11th annual performance in support of Operation Santa Claus, a cause it has supported for the past 17 years. Led by Asia-Pacific co-CEO Bill Strong, over 60 members of the firm's senior management sang in Thursday's performance at the Elements Mall. Sponsorship of the executives, together with a charity bake auction last week, has raised a total of HK$3.2 million. This will go the Rainbow Project, which caters to children with autism.


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