Tough Smartphone: Caterpillar-Branded Android Device Can Take a Beating

Bullit Mobile, a global licensee for Caterpillar Inc. mobile devices, recently introduced the Cat B15 smartphone in North America. The Caterpillar-themed Android device has a rugged case that allows it to survive a 5.9-ft drop onto concrete and getting submerged in up to 3.2 ft of water for 30 minutes, according to the manufacturer. In addition, the 4-in. multi-touch screen can be operated with wet fingers. Made of anodized aluminum and shock-absorbent rubber, the case is IP67-certified as dustproof and waterproof. The Cat B15 boasts a dual-core 1-GHz processor and runs Android version 4.1 Jelly Bean. Standby battery life is estimated at 9.5 days.

Back in the USA: Kobelco Sees First American Delivery After End of CNH Deal

Japan-based equipment maker Kobelco has made its first deliveries to the U.S. in a decade, after ending a 10-year sales arrangement with Illinois-based equipment manufacturer CNH at the end of 2012. The first Kobelco-branded hydraulic excavators arrived in the U.S. for delivery in April. Kobelco has said it is reviving its old dealer network. Kobelco is offering its conventional model, SK Series and Mini Compact lines of hydraulic excavators to the North American marketplace. The firm recently opened a new U.S. headquarters in Houston and is expanding its parts inventory. According to a press release from Kobelco, CNH will continue to provide parts and service to customers who purchased Kobelco machines, and Kobelco will provide service to legacy machines sold prior to the 10-year agreement.

Rentals on the Rise: $33.6 Billion in 2013 Revenue Forecasted for Rental Industry

Analysis from the American Rental Association's Rental Market Monitor report predicts the U.S. equipment rental market will generate $33.6 billion in revenue in 2013, which would be a 7.9% increase over 2012; revenue growth is forecast to reach 7.9% in the fourth quarter. In the Canadian market, equipment rental revenue is forecast to reach nearly $4.6 billion in 2013, which would be a 3.1% hike over 2012. In total, equipment rental revenue for North America is expected to reach $38.2 billion in 2013. The Rental Market Monitor bases its prediction on strong expected growth in residential construction through 2015. ARA's Rental Market Monitor report is compiled by IHS Global Insight.

Rough Beginnings: Machinery Stocks Hammered in The First Quarter of 2013

Sluggish sales of heavy equipment in the early part of the year have taken a toll on manufacturing forecasts, which look to be flat to slightly down for the full year. In April, Caterpillar Inc. reported a 17% decline in sales from a year ago and lowered its full-year revenue outlook to $57 billion to $61 billion from $60 billion to $68 billion. However, Cat is starting to sees signs of increasing stability in world markets. In China, Cat sold 25% more excavators in April over the prior year; all excavator brands' sales rose 6%. "While we believe a significant excess of equipment remains in the channel, strong sales data over the last two months suggest that Chinese equipment demand is recovering," J.P. Morgan said in a recent investor note. Meanwhile, Deere & Co.'s construction-and-forestry unit posted a sales slip of 6% for its fiscal second quarter, ending on April 30. The unit expects a 5% dip in 2013 due to "a cautious outlook for U.S. economic growth, cool, wet weather conditions in North America and flat sales in world forestry markets," Deere says.

Precious Cargo: General Motors Partners With Nissan for Small Van Segment

Lacking a small contractor van in its lineup, General Motors has inked a deal to rebadge Nissan NV200 cargo vans and sell them through Chevrolet dealers in the U.S. and Canada. "Our fleet customers have asked us for an entry in the commercial small-van segment," says Ed Peper, U.S. vice president for G.M.'s fleet division. Available in fall 2014, the Chevrolet City Express will be available with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. The cargo area will hold 122.7 cu ft of material, including a standard 48-in.-wide pallet. Prices have not yet been announced, but the NV200 starts at $19,990 and touts 24-mpg combined city-highway fuel economy.