Volvo Construction Equipment president Martin Weissburg shared the sentiments of many manufacturers, reporting improved profitability through 2016, but uneven sales growth among its key markets. 

But the fourth quarter of 2016 offered a portent of hope, with a 20% increase in sales compared with the same period in 2015. The Americas trended slightly downward last year, Weissburg added, although North America is showing signs of improvement.

Automation and alternative drivelines will be emphasized in Volvo CE's research and development efforts, as evidenced by LX1 electric hybrid loader, currently undergoing prototype field testing in California, and HX1 and HX2 battery-powered autonomous loaders. Weissburg said Volvo CE is accelerating development of the HX2, but declined to specify when it might be ready for commercialization.

There was still plenty of Volvo CE equipment ready for purchase on display at CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas, led by the company's largest wheel loader, the 50-ton class L350H. Sharing the spotlight was the new 34-ton L260H heavy-duty wheel loader.

Also making their North American debut was the EW60E compact loader, which offers a 60hp engine and more than 8,475 lb ft of breakout force, and Dig Assist, an in-cab interface for Volvo excavators that allows operators to monitor job progress against pre-set specifications.