Kobelco to build excavator plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Marcia Gruver Doyle Pix
Kobelco President and CEO Katsuhiko “Pete” Morita at the Bauma trade show in 2013.Kobelco President and CEO Katsuhiko “Pete” Morita at the Bauma trade show in 2013.

Kobelco Construction Machinery announced it will build an excavator plant near Spartanburg, South Carolina. The plant will start producing 1,800 units of an as-yet unspecified 20-metric-ton model in January 2016.

The 85-acre site will be operated by Kobelco Construction Machinery U.S.A, which now markets five conventional excavators, including the 48,500-pound SK210LC, four compact excavators, six compact radius excavators, and two models aimed at the demolition market. KCMU currently operates out of Katy, Texas.

KCMU is moving fast on the project—with plans to finalize site purchase in April, construct the plant and install machinery, completing everything in December. After the plant is built, KCMU will be “reorganized into a company with integrated production and sales,” according to parent Kobelco.

Kobelco says its current target market share for North America is 7 percent or higher in fiscal year 2015. With the U.S. plant, however, the company expects to regain the 10 percent share in North America the company had prior to its alliance with CNH, which was dissolved in late 2012.

The future U.S. plant was referred to in an interview with Equipment World in 2013, when Katsuhiko “Pete” Morita, president and CEO, KCMU said the company’s home in Texas was temporary until the plant was built.

According to parent Kobelco, one reason behind the move to build the U.S. plant is that its Hiroshima Itsukaichi factory in Japan, which produces the company’s excavators marketed here, is working at full capacity, now producing 10,500 units,  “significantly exceeding the current production capacity of 8,500 units.” Kobelco says its compact excavators and special machines will continue to be produced in Japan.