CAT® 1-2 Tonne Mini Excavators Impact Australian Landscapers

It has been one year since Caterpillar® released its Next Generation Mini Excavator 1-2 tonne range into the Australian market.

Over these 12 months, Caterpillar dealers have completed hundreds of demonstrations with Australian landscapers and tradies, getting word out on just how great these mini excavators are and what they can do for landscapers looking for affordable  digging solutions.

Built with customer needs and values in mind, Caterpillar’s Next Gen Mini Excavators have been designed to maximise efficiency and capabilities. All whilst ensuring operator safety, comfort and performance.

The Next generation model range from Caterpillar gives landscapers a wide choice of options to match machine capabilities to their applications and needs:

  • 301.5 Open Canopy, 1.7 tonne, standard tailswing
  • 301.6 Air-conditioned Cab, 1.7 tonne, standard tailswing
  • 301.7 CR Open Canopy, 1.75 tonne, compact tailswing
  • 301.8 Canopy or A/C Cab, 1.8 tonne, standard tailswing
  • 302 CR Canopy or A/C Cab, 2 tonne, standard tailswing

Since introducing its range of new Next Generation 1-2 tonne Mini Excavators, Caterpillar has experienced a surge in customer demand that has seen a 25 per cent increase in sales over the previous year. This highlights the value of these machines to customers and the demand for innovative mini excavators.

Ryan Allen, from Greenstyle Landscapes was the first in Australia to purchase a mini excavator from the Cat next gen range. He has experienced the power and productivity of his 301.7CR first-hand and has noticed the benefits it has brought to his business. Based on these experiences, Allen has been happy to recommend these machines to other business owners and contractors alike, “I’d be happy to endorse these machines to anyone who asks.”

Caterpillar’s Next Gen mini excavators come with several unique technology improvements that work to provide powerful lifting and digging performance together  with efficiency and fuel economy. Allen notes, “the power is great, the machine is at the same time fast and smooth, which

is not always possible with mini excavators”. The load-sensing hydraulic system, coupled with adjustable joystick response, means these new models can generate higher digging and lifting forces without compromising on stability.

An exclusive feature of the Next Generation range is the stick steer function. This moves away from the conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls and allows the operator to switch to skidsteer style ‘stick-steer’ with the touch of a  button.

For Wil Smethurst from WJS Plumbing, this feature “makes backfilling and levelling a breeze”.

In feedback provided by customers in the first year, top rated features include the keyless start, blade float, auto idle and joystick thumb  controls.

Keyless Start

In a first for the industry all Cat 1-2 tonne excavators feature keyless start system.

Similar to automotive systems, the key communicates with the machine, via a Bluetooth® connection, offering added security against unauthorised use. Even without the key, you can still start the machine with use of up to 50 programmable passcodes. For both Allan Batstone of Sharalla Pty Ltd and Louis Huckstadt of Huck Hire, this feature means added convenience and security. Huckstadt notes that you can “keep the keys in your pocket or leave them at home” and for Batson this is “great for security and ease of operation”.

Blade Float

The blade float feature, “is the main  reason I got the machine” says Rony Portelli from AJP Plumbing. Blade float is standard across the next gen range, which helps with backfilling and grading  jobs.

Blade float “makes levelling a breeze” for Sean Campbell from Perth Irrigation and Landscapes, which is a similar testament to that of Daniel Slim (Slim Tech Services) who also finds it “very helpful for levelling”.

Auto Engine Idle

When designing the new models, Caterpillar engineers ensured owning and operating costs were a top consideration. The auto idle feature works to reduce unnecessary fuel burn, which has been a cost saving for Batstone who confirms that it “saves time and fuel” and similarly for Wil Smethurst who “love[s] this feature! It saves fuel and no need for manual adjustments”.

Further features to the above include a tilt-up canopy or cab, which gives  Portelli “the confidence in knowing I can get service access with ease”.

Additional options including air conditioning. The air conditioning option  is unique to less than 3-tonne machines, particularly given Caterpillar has designed a sealed and pressurised cab unit that reduces sound and dust while at the same time leaving enough engine power to meet performance needs.

Affordable Cat Excavators?

It’s not a secret that the word Cat or Caterpillar can invoke the thought of being pricey or beyond the reach of many businesses, however nothing can be further from the truth. Deals exist right now from Australian Cat dealers that are easily within reach of any small business or landscape contractor. In fact, owning a Cat Next Generation Mini Excavator is more than just affordable, it is comparable to any other major brand as well as great choice when considering what these models offer that other brands may lack. When combined with the Caterpillar finance rate 2.49 per cent over 48 months, this translates to weekly payments that are highly affordable compared to renting an equivalent machine for one day.

Jobsite Versatility

In addition to the range of Next Gen mini excavators, Caterpillar offers a variety of attachments available from your Cat dealer:

  • Hydraulic Thumbs – Offer the ability to switch from digging to pick-and-place of objects without leaving the cab. Perfect for landscaping applications!
  • Auger Drives – Also known as post hole diggers, can drill holes for fences or retaining walls in minutes rather than hours.
  • Hammers – Also known as breakers where there is the need to break-up and remove concrete or rocks to prepare the jobsite for your landscaping  project.

Any or all of the above attachments can be packaged with a new Next Generation mini excavator by your Cat dealer at the same interest rate of 2.49 per cent which, depending on your choice of item adds between $15 to $30 to a normal weekly payment but gives owners the ability to complete jobs faster and to a higher quality. Cat dealers can also provide full peace of mind through adding service packages, that make owning and caring for a Cat machine a simple and low-hassle prospect.

With continuous changes from job sites and customer requirements, the need for reliable work tools is becoming more imperative to keep up with demands.

Regardless of situational changes, the necessities that haven’t changed are the need for increased efficiency, superior level finishes and the upmost level of customer satisfaction. Caterpillar’s Next Gen Mini Excavator’s are the ideal companion to assist with these growing needs and are ultimately a machine to optimise value for operator, customer and client.

Contact your local Cat dealer and arrange a demonstration or machine test. Visit to learn more.

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