CAT Considers Expanding U.S. Excavator Production

World’s largest maker of mining and construction equipment is considering building a new factory in the U.S. to produce hydraulic excavators.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment, said Thursday it is considering building a new factory in the U.S to produce hydraulic excavators, a common piece of construction equipment.

The company is studying building a new domestic plant that would produce several excavator models currently made at Caterpillar's factory in Akashi, Japan.

The new facility would also take over production of two models currently built in Aurora, Ill., and triple the company's domestic production capacity.

Caterpillar said the move would "significantly increase" the company's domestic employment in the U.S. that is dedicated to excavator production.

The company also said its Japanese plant could be expanded to handle increasing demand in Asia and China in particular.

"The study is based on the current analysis of where the global excavator market is heading and how Caterpillar should position itself for continued leadership in the excavator industry," Caterpillar Vice President Gary Stampanato said in a statement.

A year ago, Caterpillar announced plans to lay off more than 2,400 employees at five U.S. plants as the heavy equipment maker tried to cut costs amid the global economic downturn.

Shares of the company fell 48 cents to $58.30 in morning trading.