Kobelco USA to Use Yanmar, Isuzu to Fill Engine Void, But Plant Layoffs Will Proceed

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Apr 21, 2021
Kobelco machine surrounded by employees
In 2019, Kobelco USA celebrated the 1,000 excavator – an SK210LC-10 – produced at its plant in Moore, South Carolina.

Kobelco Construction Machinery USA has tapped existing engine providers Yanmar and Isuzu to supply excavator and crane engines after Hino Motors failed to obtain its 2021 EPA certifications on four engines.

This follows the announcement last week that the company would be forced to lay off 75% of its Moore, South Carolina, excavator plant workforce because of the engine supply problem.

Kobelco USA told Equipment World: "There will be 100 layoffs at the South Carolina plant. Kobelco USA will have a more accurate idea of the engine supply timing by mid-summer and will re-evaluate the staffing requirements at that time. Once a restart date for the plant is determined, Kobelco will offer all laid off employees a chance to return as soon as possible."

Kobelco further calls the Yanmar and Isuzu engine refits a "major project which requires an enormous investment in engineering and design resources."

"Kobelco does not plan to switch back to Hino as the engine manufacturer for these models after Hino obtains certification," the company adds in the statement to Equipment World. "Kobelco’s relationship with Hino is still intact on a global scale, but the North American product is committed to Yanmar and Isuzu for the specified models moving forward."

“We are happy to announce that agreements are in place and an engine supply solution for Kobelco USA model excavators and cranes has been solidified,” says Jack Fendrick, COO and vice president of Kobelco USA. “Our focus is to not only provide an ample supply of our full line-up of machines with certified engines as soon as possible, but to do so in a manner that maintains the Kobelco quality and performance that has been the cornerstone of success for our dealers and our customers.”

Noting that it already uses Yanmar and Isuzu engines in some models, Kobelco USA outlined which models would receive which engines. Yanmar will supply engines for Kobelco's SK170, SK210, SK230SR, SK260 and SK270SR excavators. Isuzu will power the SK300, SK350, SK380SR, SK390, and SK500 excavator models.

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In addition, Isuzu is supplying engines for Kobelco's CK 800, CK 850, CK 1100, CK 1200, CK 1600, CK 2000, and CK 2750 crawler cranes.

Kobelco notes that most of the Kobelco models will have increased horsepower with the Yanmar and Isuzu engines.

Kobelco says its "relationship with Hino Motors remains intact on a global basis outside of North America." In addition, parts for previously manufactured excavators and cranes currently operating with Hino engines in North America "will remain readily available from Kobelco dealers," says the company, noting that these machines meet EPA emission requirements and are not affected by the change.

The AP reported last week that the Moore plant layoffs would include 102 of the plant's 131 employees.

Hino Motors informed Kobelco Construction Machinery in January that its 2021 EPA emission certifications had not been obtained on four engine models and said there was "no clear outlook" on its future supply schedule.