Due to EPA Certification Problems, Kobelco Suspends Excavators Production in US

    Kobelco Construction Machinery (or KCM) has decided to temporarily suspend the production of hydraulic excavators at the U.S. plant of its U.S. subsidiary Kobelco Construction Machinery U.S.A. (or KCMU) in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, USA, from May 1, 2021.

    Kobelco Construction Machinery U.S.A. (KCMU)

    1. Reasons for the Suspension

    In the middle of January 2021, Kobelco has been told by Hino Motors, that there has been a delay in the acquisition of certification for new model year engines*1 to be supplied for KCMU’s hydraulic excavators for the North American market, due to a problem in the process of achieving EPA emission certifications, with no clear outlook on future supply schedule.

    After receiving this notice, Kobelco has been examining the impact on production and alternate solutions but has judged that the production of hydraulic excavators equipped with the relevant engines*2 would be difficult and decided to suspend the production at the KCMU’s Spartanburg plant.

    *1 The engines need to meet EPA emission certifications for 2021

    *2 Engine models: J05E, J08E, P11C, and E13C

    The Hino J05 series diesel engine was developed based on an engine for Hino medium-duty trucks and buses. It is one of the EPA Non-Certified engines.

    On December 2020, also Hino Motors announced a formal pause of vehicle production at its plants in its consolidated subsidiaries in North America; the West Virginia plant at Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A., and the Woodstock plant at Hino Motors Canada, until the end of September 2021. 

    The pause was approved following challenges in the required U.S. engine certification testing process for new model years of the A09C, J08E, and J05E* engines for North America.
    *A09C, J08E, and J05E: engine models

    2. Details of the Production Suspension

    The production of the following 7 models of hydraulic excavators, which are produced at and shipped from the KCMU’s Spartanburg plant, will be subject to be suspended. For hydraulic excavators equipped with certified engines, sales will be suspended once the present stock has run out.

    • Models Produced in the U.S.
    Hydraulic excavators: SK170LC, SK210LC, SK260LC, SK300LC, SK350LC, SK390LC and SK500LC

    The engines that are undergoing the certification process are also used in some models manufactured in Japan and supplied to the North American market, which includes hydraulic excavators (produced at KCM’s Itsukaichi factory) and crawler cranes (produced at KCM’s Okubo factory). Therefore, the production of the following models will also have to be temporarily suspended once the present stock of certified engines has run out.

    • Models affected in Japan (for North America)

    Hydraulic excavators: SK210HLC, SK230SRLC, SK270SRLC, SK380SRLC, SK500LC, and SK850LCCrawler cranes: CK850G, CK1100G, CK1200G, CK1600G, and CK2750G

    The Kobelco SK170LC excavator.

    3. Schedule

    Kobelco will suspend the production at the KCMU’s Spartanburg plant from May 1, 2021, until the supply of the engines is resumed (date undetermined).

    4. Future outlook

    Kobelco is currently scrutinizing the impact of the suspension of the production and sale on its business results. It will promptly make an announcement when any matters to be disclosed arise in the future.

    During the suspension of the production, Kobelco will continue the business in North America, including the sales of models other than those subject to this suspension (various mini-excavators, 7ton/13ton class hydraulic excavators and the crawler crane CK3300G) and after-sales service for machines already delivered. Kobelco is considering installing an alternative engine for the models affected by this supply disruption. We strive to resolve this issue as soon as possible.


    Sales Volume of Hydraulic Excavators in the North American market

    In FY2020: About 1,000 units (of which about 600 are produced at the Spartanburg Plant)


    Outline of Kobelco Construction Machinery U.S.A. Inc. (KCMU)

    Company Name Kobelco Construction Machinery U.S.A. Inc.
    Location Headquarters in Katy, Texas, USA
    U.S. plant in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, USA
    Representative Naoto Suzuki
    Stockholder Kobelco Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. 100%
    Opened in March 2016
    Business Operations Production of hydraulic excavators
    Sales and service of construction machinery in North, Central, and South America
    Employees 251 (as of the end of January 2021)


    Outline of the KMCU’s Spartanburg Plant

    Land Area Approximately 310,000m² (76 acres)
    Building Area <Plant>Approximately 14,500m² (156,000 square feet)
    <Office>Approximately 1,600m² (17,000 square feet)
    Employees 141 (as of the end of January 2021)

    *The information contained herein is as of the date this announcement was made and it may be changed without prior notice.

    Chiara De Paoli
    Chiara De Paoli
    Editor at HeavyQuip Magazine and International Operations Manager for V22 Media