Hyundai Hits Oz

Af­ter a short hia­tus, the glob­ally ag­gres­sive South Korean is back on our shores in a hunt for light and heavy-duty mar­ket­share

Deals on Wheels - - Contents -

Hyundai’s com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles global ex­pan­sion is mak­ing in­roads on Aus­tralian shores, with the keenly priced EX Mighty range of light trucks launched lo­cally, and the near-new heavy-duty Xcient prime mover un­veiled.

The move comes 20 months af­ter the group an­nounced a Won 2 tril­lion (A$2.4 bil­lion), sixyear in­vest­ment in a global com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles ex­pan­sion ef­fort.

Al­lied to this, it is in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of the Jeon-ju plant from 65,000 units to 100,000 units by 2020.

The lo­cal push is be­ing driven by Peninsula Mo­tor Group boss Dilip Ku­mar as pres­i­dent and CEO of a re­born Hyundai Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles Aus­tralia (HCVA) of­fer­ing trucks and buses.

The plan is for a pro­gres­sive roll­out with the Mighty in var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions this year, Xcient next year, a 10-tonne Mighty Medium in 2018, and an all-new medium-duty of­fer­ing in 2019.

It is over­seen by Aus­tralia ex­pert and Hyundai se­nior vice pres­i­dent com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles ex­port divi­sion In Cheol (Ed­ward) Lee.

Lee is a veteran of Hyundai in Aus­tralia. Seen as a tough taskmas­ter early on, he is cred­ited with build­ing the ba­sis of the cars’ suc­cess here, hav­ing dou­bled unit sales from 45,409 in 2008 to 91,536 in 2012 and lift­ing deal­er­ship num­bers from 142 to 155 as Hyundai Mo­tor Com­pany Aus­tralia CEO be­fore be­ing pro­moted.

“We are very mind­ful of the com­pet­i­tive and ma­ture Aus­tralian mar­ket and the chal­lenges we face, but we also know the strength and ac­cep­tance of the Hyundai brand here, com­bined with the range of prod­ucts … give us a great deal of con­fi­dence of suc­cess in Aus­tralia,” Lee says.

The ef­fort is sup­ported at present by a deal­er­ship net­work of nine in NSW/ACT (North­star, Wide­land, South­ern Truck Cen­tre and Peninsula), six in Vic­to­ria (Mance, Gee­long Hyundai and Bal­larat Hyundai, and two Booran Hyundai), five in Queens­land (Wide­land, Madills and East Coast Trucks) and one in South

Aus­tralia.

“We par­tic­u­larly went for coun­try deal­ers be­cause this is a man­ual,” Ku­mar says of the Mighty.

Next year, those to­tals aim to be 10, seven and eight re­spec­tively, with an ad­di­tional two in Tas­ma­nia, one in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and one in Western Aus­tralia.

Ser­vic­ing will be con­ducted at dealer work­shop fa­cil­i­ties with tech­ni­cal train­ing to be done on­line, and at the HCVA’s $3 mil­lion Syd­ney head­quar­ters.

Hyundai Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle Fi­nance pro­vides HCVA with floor plan fi­nance for deal­ers and re­tail fi­nance for deal­ers’ cus­tomers. TNT is do­ing parts dis­tri­bu­tion.

MIGHTY EF­FORT

With the Mighty, HCVA gen­eral man­ager An­thony Hulme says it is aim­ing for 5 per cent mar­ket share next year and 10 per cent in 2018. This will put Hino and Fiat on no­tice.

He ex­plains that three mod­els make up the Aus­tralian EX range:

• EX4, which can be driven on a car li­cence, with a short and medium wheel­base vari­ant

• EX6, once again with short and medium wheel­bases

• EX8, a 7.5-tonne model that comes in three wheel­base con­fig­u­ra­tions: medium, long and ex­tra long

• Avail­able on each model is a choice of a stan­dard or su­per­cab.

The Mighty mantra lo­cally is ‘Ready built, ready to work’ for its fac­tory Pan­tech, re­frig­er­ated, and

three-way tip­per of­fer­ings, along with fac­tory steel and alu­minium trays, the lat­ter fit­ted by TNG Na­tional.

They can be tai­lored with de­liv­ery in two months, Ku­mar says, and will come in short, medium and long wheel­bases.

Though HVCA can bring in cab-chas­sis ver­sions, that is not a pri­or­ity as the price dif­fer­en­tial fades and with it the ‘ready to work’ ad­van­tage and speed.

“We have to or­der all our trucks on a monthly ba­sis,” Ku­mar says.

“At that time, if you can get the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the body, by the end of the next month we’ll have it here – a lot quicker than if you went down the road and or­dered a body.”

All trucks and bod­ies will be un­der a sin­gle HCVA war­ranty of three years and 200,000km, and come with a prom­ise of 24/7 road­side as­sist and parts and ser­vice backup.

Power comes from a 3.9-litre 4-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel en­gine with two power out­put lev­els.

The EX4 de­vel­ops 103kW at 2500rpm and de­liv­ers max­i­mum torque of 392Nm at 1400rpm. Power and torque in­crease to 125kW and torque to 610Nm in the EX6.

Both the EX4 and EX6 have a com­mon dual mode 5-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion.

The EX8 shares the same power and torque as the EX6 but gains a 6-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion with dual modes.

Safety fea­tures in­clude Ve­hi­cle Dy­namic Con­trol and a shock-ab­sorb­ing steer­ing.

Also stan­dard are four-wheel disc brakes, hill start as­sist, longer multi-leaf rear springs and gas-filled shock ab­sorbers, pro­vid­ing greater com­fort for oc­cu­pants and cargo, and a zinc­gala­vanised steel cabin.

Asked about lo­cal test­ing for the Mighty,

Ku­mar noted Aus­tralian con­di­tions were well un­der­stood from HCVA’s ear­lier in­car­na­tion be­tween 2010 and 2014 – in this pe­riod, its best sales years were 2011 and 2012, with 135 and

100 units re­spec­tively.

“These are EC-ap­proved ve­hi­cles so we didn’t have to do a lot to them,” Ku­mar says.

While late last year was a fa­mil­iari­sa­tion ex­er­cise for deal­ers and the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle me­dia, the ac­tion heats up in 2017.

“We’ve got a large ship­ment com­ing in shortly and we’ve or­dered large stocks for Jan­uaryFe­bru­ary with 2017 com­pli­ance on them – the deal­ers seem to want that,” Ku­mar says. “Ev­ery dealer will start off with five units, so they will have an EX4 and EX8. Ev­ery one of them will come with a body.”

Though the range seen so far is fairly com­pre­hen­sive, Ku­mar is look­ing for more of­fer­ings from South Korea.

“We vis­ited their spe­cial ve­hi­cles fac­tory and I was very im­pressed,” Ku­mar says.

“This is just the start,” he con­tin­ues, rat­tling off the op­tions in­clud­ing ag­i­ta­tors and tow trucks, “a whole range that I’d love to bring out here ready-built. With the Ex­cient, we can do a six­cu­bic-me­tre ag­i­ta­tor, we just need to get the lo­cal specs right for that.”

THE XCIENT CHAL­LENGE

The Xcient, which Ku­mar de­scribes as South Korea’s big­gest sell­ing truck with 10,000 on its roads, is ex­pected to be rolled out in the sec­ond quar­ter of next year and fea­tures a full stand­ing height cab.

“I’m ac­tu­ally quite ex­cited about this, mostly for con­tainer work,” he says, point­ing to the 80cmwidth bunk as a fa­tigue so­lu­tion in that sphere.

While lo­cal work is the present fo­cus, and some do­mes­tic test­ing has been un­der­way, line-haul test­ing is likely next year. It will be B-dou­ble rated to 60-tonne GCM.

“Heavy-duty trucks in Aus­tralia is a huge mar­ket. Be­cause our prod­uct is avail­able and it is a very strong heavy-duty truck, there is no rea­son we don’t sup­ply here,” Lee tells Deals on Wheels when asked about the logic of bring­ing it into such a crowded heavy ve­hi­cle mar­ket. “As long as there is a mar­ket, we will bring them [here].”

The global divi­sion’s mar­ket­ing deputy gen­eral man­ager, Sung Ho (James) Kang, ex­plains that the longer dis­tances, in­clud­ing line-haul, will be “the sec­ond step” in the Xcient’s Aus­tralian tilt.

As Hyundai’s in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives made their pitch, it be­came plain that two mar­ket lead­ers were both ex­em­plars and tar­gets.

When com­par­isons were to be made, Isuzu

bore the brunt of Mighty com­par­isons, while the Xcient’s at­tributes were pre­sented flat­ter­ingly against the near­est-to-the-pin Volvo. That said, Sca­nia, Mercedes Benz and MAN get men­tions as well.

Ku­mar name-checked Isuzu, for which he worked when they wore a Bed­ford skin back in the day, on price dif­fer­en­tial against the Mighty.

“The re­frig­er­ated truck, we have $10,000$15,000 price ad­van­tage on Isuzu, and that does make a dif­fer­ence . . . fleets buy­ing five of them and the fifth one’s free,” Ku­mar says.

Mean­while, Ku­mar and Kang spoke of the Xcient’s pro­fi­ciency and ef­fi­ciency go­ing headto-head with Volvo of­fer­ings in Saudi Ara­bia and Chile.

The re­spec­tive pre­sen­ta­tions made strong claims on the amounts of high-ten­sile and zinc­gal­vanised steel of the Mighty cab (37 per cent vs 32 per cent, and 79 per cent vs 12 per cent re­spec­tively) along with power (125kW vs 114kW) and torque (610Nm vs 419Nm).

Against the Volvo’s FH64, the Xcient com­par­isons were more even.

“Aus­tralian road con­di­tions are unique,”

Kang notes when asked about the Xcient’s per­for­mances over­seas. “In other mar­kets, Chile is a very long coun­try with long-haul. There, Xcient is ac­tu­ally ri­valling Volvo’s Ja­panese heavy trucks. Prod­uct-wise, the level of qual­ity is quite high but we have to tune it to fit the Aus­tralian mar­ket.”

The eval­u­a­tion ve­hi­cle ar­rived in the coun­try ear­lier this year for road test­ing with Hyundai’s lo­cal engi­neers.

“They gave en­gi­neer­ing in­put back to the Korea R&D cen­tre,” Kang says, not­ing a larger fuel tank and an im­proved tyre, gear ra­tio and power train com­bi­na­tion were items need­ing a re­think.

But he in­sists there will be no long-haul sales ef­fort un­til na­tional parts and ser­vices sup­port is fi­nalised.

“We should have it ap­proved in the next three months,” Ku­mar says, adding he al­ready has some cus­tomers lined up for real-life test­ing.

1. Space for three in the

Mighty’s cabin

2. The fuel tank has been en­larged for Aus­tralian con­di­tions

3. HCVA gen­eral man­ager

An­thony Hulme 3

4. The Mighty’s un­der­belly 5. The Mighty’s F-En­gine is a 3.9 litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel

6. Sus­pen­sion on the Xcient 6

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