Sustainable growth for the German market
Despite a difficult year for the construction industry, 2020 was a year of stabilisation for Kobelco, and in particular, for the German market.
“Like all of our competitors in the individual market segments of light to heavy crawler excavators, the coronavirus crisis hit us very suddenly in the first quarter of 2020,” explains Hanns Renz, Regional Sales Manager at Kobelco Construction Machinery Europe (KCME). “After the first shock wave, however, the market was very robust. We were largely able to achieve our original sales targets and even registered an increase in machine orders across all classes of almost 10% compared to 2019. “
Since 2013, Hanns has been looking after the German market, which also now includes Austria and Switzerland. Starting from a small base of long-standing Kobelco partners, the sales network has grown steadily to seven regional dealers with a Germany-wide coverage through a total of 36 own sales and service points or partner companies.
The Kobelco range exclusively includes crawler excavators, but with almost 40 models between 1,000kg and 85 tonnes (operating weight), it serves all relevant applications. Kobelco deliberately positions itself as a premium manufacturer in large construction machinery, high-volume suppliers of smaller equipment and providers of highly industry-specific technology (e.g. landscaping). “Our machines are characterised by quality and durability, often class-leading performance values, high operating comfort and a clear commitment to sustainability in terms of low environmental impact and fuel savings,” continues Hanns.
Kobelco’s three factories in Japan have a capacity of around 17,000 machines per year, all produced according to the highest standards – the close connection to the R&D centres guarantees a rapid implementation of technical innovations in machine solutions and components as well as the constant further development of existing series. Examples of this include pioneering multifunctional machines for recycling applications, the “NEXT” system for demolition excavators and the innovative iNDr cooling technology. In fact, the newly-launched 85-tonne Kobelco SK850LC-10E has been working in demolition for the southern German Karl Group with headquarters in Innernzell.
“In the long term, we are aiming for a market share of 10 percent in Germany,” continues Hanns. “In reality, Kobelco will probably attribute for around 6% in the industry’s official 2020 sales of tracked excavators from 12 tonnes (operating weight). However, if the high-volume mini and midi classes are included too, this picture inevitably shifts.
“With 9% and 13.5% respectively across the industries, civil engineering and the demolition and recycling sector are our main customer segments today, with around half of our sold units over 12 tonnes. Here, our compact machines can, on the one hand, make full use of their superior handling and highly efficient performance characteristics. On the other hand, as a long-standing market leader in the Japanese demolition sector, we offer sophisticated solutions for the professional dismantling of a wide variety of structures, even in sensitive urban areas.”
But the situation is more difficult in the mini and midi segment. “Landscaper often choose their equipment according to very specific mobility criteria such as trailer size or payload,” Hanns explains. “In fact, our model gradation, which is geared towards machine performance and optimised operator comfort, is not necessarily geared towards the required 100kg more or less.”
“The situation is very different in the Alpine Austrian market though, where our medium-sized models are at the forefront. With a nationwide expansion of the rental capacities of regional dealers in Germany, Kobelco intends to take countermeasures in the medium term and ensure a stronger cross-sector presence and customer-oriented test options for its technologies.”
Indeed, Kobelco has announced numerous generation changes and model premieres for the current year. A total of nine model series from 20 tons are being renewed and the ‘-11’ generation now all come with EU-V-compliant drives, further optimised boom geometries and the new Kobelco cabin concept with LED work lighting, even better visibility and ergonomically optimised controls. And, as an important addition, the new 38-tonne short-tail Kobelco SK380SRLC excavator will close an existing gap in the programme and offer compact high performance in the smallest of spaces.