What’s the Difference? We Ask Mini Excavator Manufacturers for Their Brand Differentiators 

Volvo Construction electric excavators

In the bustling world of construction, where the rumble of machinery is the backdrop to daily progress, the choice of a mini excavator can influence the pace and quality of a project. To cut through the noise and offer clarity, Compact Equipment magazine embarked on an extensive journey, interviewing representatives from 13 leading manufacturers to create the most comprehensive article ever written on compact or mini excavators (same thing). While making that mega feature, we also asked companies to share the distinct features that set each brand apart — to help our readers see some of the differences in machines that pretty much look alike — besides the color.

In this post we’ll explore the diverse landscape of compact excavators, focusing on what makes each brand unique, ranging from advanced telematics systems that offer real-time insights into machine performance to the revolutionary electric power options that promise eco-friendly efficiency. Brands like Caterpillar have pushed the envelope further with unique technologies such as Stick Steer, which simplifies operation and enhances maneuverability. Additionally, competitive warranties that underscore reliability and trust in product durability came to light, highlighting each manufacturer’s commitment to not just meet, but exceed, the evolving demands of the construction industry.

In no particular order of significance, let’s start with…


kx057-5 Kubota touchscreen display

The latest new feature from Kubota is its 7-in. LCD screen, which comes optional in the U48-5, U55-5 and KX057-5 Series and is now a standard feature in the KX080-5. It provides the operator a clear full-color display with easy access to the biometrics of the machine at a glance.


Bobcat E40 excavator

Bobcat compact excavators are designed with Bobcat engines, designed without a DPF. Unique to Bobcat compact excavators is its extendable arm option, which can be equipped with a clamp and is easily controlled using the paddle on the left-hand joystick.

Case Construction Equipment

CASE_FMX28 Fecon mulching head

Case minis sport multiple hydraulic auxiliary circuits for compatibility with a variety of attachments. The CX42D and CX50D have exclusive auxiliary hydraulic circuits to run mulching heads or other one-way flow power hungry attachments for example.


Reliability is a hallmark of Yanmar minis, which feature cylinder guards, hose guards and other options to protect against damage. The company offers a four-year/4,000-hour warranty, and Yanmar’s telematics system, SmartAssist Remote, comes standard for the first five years.


Mecalac’s MCR Series

Mecalac machines boast a unique multi-part boom, providing 360-degree turning radius, allowing effective operation in tight urban spaces. Mecala says its unique boom can outlift any other excavator in its weight class. Also, MCR crawler-skid excavators are superfast (6.2 mph).

Wacker Neuson

Wacker Neuson’s ET58

Wacker Neuson’s excavators from 3.6-ton and larger come with a standard, factory-installed hydraulic quick-coupler. Additionally, the diverter valve on the auxiliary hydraulic line allows the operator to switch between an optional thumb and another attachment.



The Hitachi ZX30U-5N and larger compact excavators come with power/economy work modes that tailor the machine’s performance to the task. The power mode provides higher engine speeds when extra horsepower is needed, while the economy mode reduces engine speed.

John Deere

John Deere 50g excavator

All six of the John Deere P-Tier compact excavator models offer optional JDLink telematics, which provide customers with valuable data such as the ability to see the location of their machine remotely.

Mini excavators are making big waves on jobsites all over North America. Click here for the latest news on these machines and the companies that make them.



The most unique excavator in JCB’s lineup is the JCB 19C-1E battery-electric excavator. It is a 1.9-ton excavator powered entirely by lithium-ion batteries and offers the same performance as a diesel equivalent with no compromises in lifting capacity or breakout force.


Cat’s 6- to 10-ton models now offer an Ease of Use option for grade control and e-fence. This is an entry level grade system and zone protection at an affordable price. It can be added at the factory or via a dealer installed kit. Also, Next Gen models come with Stick Steer as standard.

Volvo Construction Equipment

Volvo compact excavators are known for spacious, comfortable and logically laid out cabs. The brand is big on electric, and its auxiliary hydraulics are extremely flexible and adaptable, giving the end-user a machine that can perform in different environments with various attachments.


Develon hydraulic breaker on a mini excavator

Develon mini excavators are full of value with features the company refers to as Develon Standard Premium Features. Two of the most popular are the standard telematics service (Develon Fleet Management) and standard thumb ready machines.


Takeuchi’s FR Series, the TB257FR and TB280FR, are unique within the industry, featuring a patented side-to-side boom configuration combined with a tight tail swing for unmatched visibility to the work equipment and the ability to rotate fully with very little overhang.

Keith Gribbins is the publisher of Compact Equipment.

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