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
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
“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.
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
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