Buying a Mini Excavator: Comparing Performance Value Across Multiple Brands

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Selecting the perfect mini excavator can be a challenging task, with various brands and models vying for your attention. While brand and specifications are essential, one crucial factor that should never be overlooked is the machine's lifetime value.

In this blog, we will conduct a side-by-side comparison of three popular mini excavators: a Bobcat E35, a New Holland E37C, and a SANY SY35U. Each of these machines boasts unique backgrounds as a rental unit, a pre-owned single-owner used unit, and a demo unit. Together they clock over 1,100 operational hours. We've scrutinized their performance and put them through tests to reveal how different applications impact their long-term value, both on paper and in the dirt.

The comprehensive comparison dives into the lifetime value of each machine based on rigorous tests, operational specifications, and serviceability, shedding light on critical factors that impact machine performance over time.

Understanding the Importance of Lifetime Value

When deciding on the right machine for your needs, several key factors come into play. These include the initial investment, customization, serviceability, parts availability, warranty, and the machine's history. In this blog, we will provide you with an in-depth look at the performance and features of these mini excavators, each with varying setups and history.

When comparing the lifetime value of these three options, several factors are crucial:

Initial Investment:

  • One of the primary considerations most people are weighing when purchasing a mini excavator is the initial investment. The upfront cost can vary greatly between different brands, models, and sometimes optional features. While it's tempting to focus solely on getting the cheapest option, it's essential to weigh this cost against the lifetime value of the machine.
  • A higher initial investment may be justified if it means superior performance, durability, and lower maintenance costs in the long run. By considering your specific needs and budget, you can make a more informed decision regarding the initial investment.

Financing Options:

  • Explore different financing options, such as leasing or loans, to make the initial cost more manageable.
  • Depending on your situation, your financing institution and your luck, there may be specialized promotions that can help make your initial investment seem even less daunting. Find out what's out there and take advantage of opportunities that might suit your needs with the help of a financial advisor. 


  • Customization plays a pivotal role in how well a mini excavator aligns with your projects. While many brands have optional features, be sure to know what exactly is included in the baseline package. Weighing the impact on your projects down the line is key to setting yourself up for success. 
  • Adaptability, allowing you to modify attachments or features to cater to your specific requirements, is a key component to a machine that’s going to grow with you and your business. Planning for this growth in the early stages can save you money in the long run. What attachments and comforts will you want in the next few years? While some machines might come set up, others may not include certain standard features that will limit your versatility.
  • When evaluating a mini excavator's lifetime value, think about how easily you can customize the machine to suit your needs now and years from now. A versatile and adaptable unit might prove to be more cost-effective over time, as it can handle a wider range of tasks.


  • The ease of maintenance and serviceability is another critical factor to consider. A mini excavator that is simple to service and maintain can save you a good deal of both time and money over the lifetime of your machine. Regular maintenance ensures your machine runs efficiently and extends its operational life.
  • Evaluate the accessibility of key components and the availability of replacement parts early on. Machines that are designed with serviceability in mind make routine maintenance more straightforward, keeping your downtime to a minimum. In some cases, these set maintenance schedules are a requirement to upkeep the warranty, and planning for the interruptions will help you know what to expect as you wear in the machine. 


  • Assess how frequently you'll use the equipment and weigh the cost of rentals against the initial investment of purchasing a demo or previously owned machine. How you plan to utilize the machine is a key factor in deciding just what your initial investment should look like. Whether you and the owner/operator plan to have the machine out with your team on the job site or even rent it out while it’s not in use, it’s critical to plan for the impacts of each as they may impact the choices you make early on.

Parts Availability:

  • The availability of replacement parts is an often overlooked aspect of a mini excavator's lifetime value. Even the most robust machines may require occasional part replacements due to wear and tear. It's essential to choose a brand or model with readily available and reasonably priced parts to minimize operational disruptions and expenses.


  • Warranty is a critical factor to consider when assessing the lifetime value of a mini excavator. A comprehensive warranty can provide peace of mind, safeguarding your investment against unexpected repairs or defects. Be sure to review the warranty coverage offered by the manufacturer and consider any extended warranty options.

Machine's History:

  • Understanding the history of the mini excavator you're considering is vital. It can provide insights into how well the machine has been maintained and whether it has undergone extensive repairs or modifications. A demo machine, a rental unit, or a previously owned unit each comes with a unique history that can impact its lifetime value.
  • While previously owned machines can help save you some in the initial investment, depending on how you plan to use the machine it may or may not be right for you. Based on your needs and how you plan to use the machine, factors like cosmetic damage may not be important, but always ensure you are comfortable with what's under the hood in any equipment you're purchasing.

Resale value:

  • While new and used machines have different depreciation rates early on, a used machine with multiple owners can affect the resale value of any unit. In the long run, buying a new machine tends to offer higher resale values, which can affect the lifetime value if you plan to sell it in the future.
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In this blog, we aim to provide you with an in-depth look at the performance and features of three mini excavators—Sany SY35U, New Holland E37C, and Bobcat E35. By examining these factors comprehensively, you can make an informed decision that not only fits your budget but also maximizes the lifetime value of your mini excavator.

Each mini excavator in this specific comparison presents a unique history and usage pattern, shaping their overall value. The Bobcat, for instance, serves as a rental unit, displaying signs of wear and tear from multiple users. In contrast, the New Holland is a trade-in unit from a single owner/operator, which showcases immaculate care with lower hours. Meanwhile, the SANY, a demo unit, reflects the in-house representation of the brand, maintained at a single facility and used to help potential customers understand the performance capabilities.

The Excavator Showdown

During our testing, we dove into the performance and features of these mini excavators, both on paper and in the field. This showcases their strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to make an informed decision. Specifically, we review their track speed and digging capabilities, highlighting their strengths and areas of expertise.

Specifications and Warranty Details

The analysis meticulously details the technical aspects of each machine. The Bobcat, with 550 hours, is compared against the New Holland, boasting 400 hours, and the Sany, which has around 250 hours. The New Holland and Sany provide a more extended warranty, with the Sany leading the pack holding a remarkable 5-year, 5,000-hour warranty, underlining the confidence in its durability and quality.

Operational Performance Tests

We conducted a series of practical tests involving track speed and digging capability, revealing the operational differences among the excavators.

When it comes to digging force, SANY demonstrated exceptional capability, surpassing New Holland and the Bobcat in the test, which might have surprised many based on the data listed on the spec sheet below. Practical application can often give different results than on paper specifications. Many factors work together to ultimately result in how well your machine works for you. 

As it pertains to track speed, the Bobcat E35 definitely demonstrates a faster track speed than both the New Holland E37 and the SANY SY35U. When considering what performance characteristics are best for you, you might find that track speed isn't everything when it comes to production. If you are working in confined spaces or in a set area, speed may not be as noticeable as say running a race. 

To learn more and see these minis in action, this video demonstrates the operation of three machines after varied usage—a demo unit, a rental unit, and a single-owner used machine—showcasing how different treatment, maintenance, and operational history significantly impact the lifetime value of each machine.

How These Machines Compare on Paper:

SpecificationsSANYBobcatNew Holland
ModelSY35U CanopyE35E37C
Operating Weight (LBS)8,3677,6598,300
Engine Output (HP)23.324.824.4
Tail SwingZeroZero2'10"
Emission RatingTier 4f/ EU Stage V ReadyTier 4Tier 4 Final
Fuel Tank (Gal)10.613.710.5
Auxiliary PlumbingYYY
Auxiliary Flow (Gal/Min)1816.916
Travel Speed (Mph)
Track Shoe Width 12"12.612"
Max Ground Level Reach 17'11"17'17'1" / 18'
Dig Depth10'2"10'1"10'3" / 11"3"
Dump Height11'4"11'5"11'3" / 11'10"
A/C HeatY / -Optional Optional
Open Rop or ClosedBothOptionalBoth
Bucket Breakout Force (Lbf)6,3857,2846,900
Warranty5-year / 5000 hr2-year / 2000 hrBase 2-year / 3,000 hr Full machine Limited Warranty

Choosing the Right Machine

The conclusion emphasizes the significance of considering the overall cost of ownership, service support, and reliability when selecting a mini excavator, pointing out that the choice ultimately depends on individual requirements and preferences.

SANY SY35U Demo Machine with 250 Hours

The SANY SY35U demo machine represents a nearly new piece of equipment that has been gently used for demonstrations. Let's explore its lifetime value:

  • Cost: Demo machines are generally more affordable than brand-new equipment, making the SANY SY35U an attractive option. It allows you to benefit from the latest technology at a reduced price along with a transferable warranty.
  • Maintenance: With only 250 hours on the clock, this machine is relatively new and should require minimal maintenance. This translates into lower operational costs over time. Generally speaking, a demo unit is well maintained in-house by trained technicians. This means your machine comes with all the required and recommended service intervals with documentation in hand for your warranty needs. 
  • Customization: While a demo machine may not be tailored to your specific needs, it still offers a high level of versatility and can be adapted for various tasks. Additionally, if you are purchasing a SANY demo machine, a large variety of typical machine “upgrades” are already installed on the machine with SANY’s dedication to “fully loaded”. Each unit comes standard with LED lights, AC / Heat in closed cab models, a 2-way blade, and pre-plumbed hydraulic for your attachments. Depending on which model you need, these specs will be tailored to the performance features known best to that class size.

Bobcat E35 Rental Machine with 400 Hours

Rental machines, like the Bobcat E35, are used by multiple customers and tend to have higher operating hours. Here's how the Bobcat E35 rental machine stacks up in terms of lifetime value:

  • Cost: The initial acquisition cost is lower than that of a new unit, however, you have to take into consideration the fact that a machine used by multiple operators over time may require some initial maintenance. With varying histories, each machine should be individually and carefully evaluated. 
  • Maintenance: Rental machines are typically well-maintained, but with 400 hours of use, maintenance needs may arise. Ensure you're aware of the maintenance history and budget for ongoing upkeep.
  • Customization: Rental machines may not be customized for your specific requirements, limiting their adaptability for unique projects unless you purchase a unit that is already prefabricated to your specifications or comes fully loaded like the SANY product line-up. Depending on where your machine is purchased from, you may have the option to add or alter the setup of the machine. Instances like this, often from a dealership with a rental fleet of its own, would come with additional costs.

New Holland E37 Previously Owned Machine – Single Owner

Previously owned machines, like the New Holland E37, offer an interesting middle ground. Here's how they compare in terms of lifetime value:

  • Cost: While previously owned machines are more affordable than brand-new ones, they are generally pricier than demo or rental machines. The extra cost can be attributed to their higher initial price, hours, history, and potential customization depending on whether you are purchasing directly from an independent owner or from a dealership.
  • Maintenance: The condition of the previously owned machine will vary, and maintenance costs may be required to bring it up to your standards. However, you have control over the maintenance and can ensure it suits your needs. Check if your machine has transferable warranty coverage left and if that’s important to you, be sure you know it's been well-documented to prevent any potential bumps down the road.
  • Customization: Previously owned machines can come in a variety of setups, which can be a significant advantage for specific projects. Some may be tailored to fit your needs already, some set up for future customization, and others with the bare bones package. Be sure to keep a look out for the attachments you need and the compatibility when searching for a previously owned machine. 

What Machine Is Right For You?

Ultimately, that’s up to you to decide. When determining what’s best for your needs, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. In the case of the comparison, we completed hereof a mini excavator's lifetime value from a rental fleet, a trade-in, and a demo machine, it showcases there are several different pathways you can take to purchasing a machine.

Your choice should align with your business's specific needs and long-term goals. Carefully consider factors such as cost, maintenance, customization, utilization, and resale value when making this critical decision. Ultimately, the right choice will help you maximize the productivity and profitability of your business.

Used Vs. New

One of the first considerations you'll face is whether to buy new or used machinery. Both options have their advantages and drawbacks, and making the right choice requires careful consideration.


SY35U Walkaround

“I enjoy it every day, the long days, the short days,” said Dylan Rouse about his life as a heavy equipment owner-operator.

A year and a half after Dylan started his small business, Elevation Excavation, we had the opportunity to see his excavator in action on a job site in Northern Kentucky.


Date: 11.13.2023
Topics: SANY, Machine Comparisons, Construction Management