In the days since the expiration of the agreement between CNH and Kobelco, equipment buyers have been asking, “What?”
CNH will no longer market the Kobelco brand, which gives Kobelco direct access to U.S. markets. The Japanese company fully intends to bring its “True Blue” excavators into the U.S. They had been restricted to Asia and the Pacific, including Australia.
“We will make a fresh start in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Russia,” said Jun Fujioka, president/CEO of Kobelco Construction Machinery in a letter to dealers. “This time, we will market Kobelco-brand excavators on our own and we are committed to meeting the challenge of creating lasting growth and strong brand value.”
U.S. dealers that have been marketing Kobelco excavators will continue to support these machines, said Athena Campos, director of marketing, Construction Equipment North America, CNH. CNH will be able to procure Kobelco parts for the next 10 years.
“The change in our relationship with Kobelco will not have any effect on Kobelco customers or the product support they receive,” Campos said. “CNH will continue to support the Kobelco dealers, and Kobelco customers can continue to receive product support from their current Kobelco dealer.”
Some of these dealers will probably take up the Kobelco offer, however, converting their alliance to Kobelco.
For the next five years, CNH will be allowed to manufacture and sell excavators currently licensed from Kobelco, and market them under the Case and New Holland brands.
Case full-size excavators are Case-sourced with no Kobelco technology, Campos said. Compact excavators, which rely on Kobelco content, will be branded as both Case and New Holland. Full-size excavators that use Kobelco technology will be marketed under the New Holland brand--except in North America.
Within the next five years, CNH will need to replace Kobelco content within those excavators. Some are already speculating about licensing agreements with other Japanese or even Chinese manufacturers.