Truck & Bus News broke the story last year and late last week it was finally confirmed that Hyundai trucks would be returning to Australia after being jettisoned by Hyundai Australia two years ago.
This time around trucks from the well-established Korean brand will be distributed by a Sydney based car dealer and one-time distributor of Chinese built coaches, Dilip Kumar of Peninsula Motor Group. The new operation is dubbed Hyundai Commercial Vehicles Australia and will be based at Kumar’s Bankstown Holden and Hyundai car dealership facility.
The new push will be led by the light-medium Hyundai Mighty range from four to 7.5 tonnes while the Xcient prime mover is set to follow later in 2017. The Mighty is well priced, there is no doubt about that with the EX4 four tonne standard cab which can be driven on a car licence starting at $39,990.
The new distributor says it will offer factory fitted bodies and sell with the slogan ‘Ready built, ready to work’ offering a standard factory built pan tech, a refrigerated pan tech and a three-way tipper as well as both factory built alloy and steel tray bodies as ready to work models negating the need for trucks to be sent off.
Kumar says the factory fitted bodies will make it a one stop shop for truck buyers with ready to work models which can be tailored to customer needs and delivery from in around two months from order.
Kumar and his general manager, Anthony Hulme, a former Hyundai Australia and one time Isuzu trucks employee says the model rollout will be progressive and will lead to a10 tonne medium duty Mighty in 2018 and an all-new medium-duty offering in 2019.
The previous light duty Hyundai trucks sold in Australia struggled with market acceptance as a result of the appearance of the truck, the lack of commitment and a strong dealer network. Kumar and Hulme say that they already have 21 dealers signed for the launch of the new trucks including nine in NSW/ACT, six in Victorian, five in Queensland and one in South Australia. Hulme claims that the dealer numbers will increase in 2017 with an expected 10 outlets in NSW, seven more in Victoria, eight in Queensland along with single outlets in Tasmania, the NT and WA.
Former Hyundai Australia executive and now senior vice president for commercial vehicles with Hyundai back in his native Korea, Edward Lee was at the media unveiling and has apparently driven the return of the brand down under.
Lee says he is very mindful of the competitive Australian market dominated by the key Japanese truck brands.
“The competitive and mature Australian market presents us with many challenges, but we also know the strength and acceptance of the Hyundai brand here and combined with the range of products of products we will show you soon, give us a great deal of confidence of success in Australia,” Lee said.
HCVA’s headquarters is in a building that Kumar added to his Peninsula dealership site for the Hyundai truck operation while they intend to conduct dealer technical training online. Its parts distribution operation has been sub contracted to global logistics giant TNT.
Anthony Hulme says the brand is aiming to capture an ambitious five per cent of the truck market in 2017 and 10 per cent by 2018. On current market volume that would mean that Hyundai will sell more units than established brands including Iveco, Mercedes and UD next year.
The aim of capturing 10 per cent of the market in 2018 would mean that it would be close on the heels of Fuso which currently has 11 per cent market share year to date.
However if Hyundai captured 10 percent it would have to take some market share from the likes of Fuso, Hino and Isuzu. That would mean that If it took one or two per cent from Fuso then the Korean brand would perhaps believe it could take number three in the market.
That is an ambitious call in anyone’s language and one would struggle to believe that the fledgling operation could overtake the established Daimler brand in Fuso in less than two years selling into this market.
The bigger Xcient prime mover is being aimed at the container market and when it arrives in the second quarter next year it will be powered by Hyundai’s 513 hp turbo diesel in line six running through a 12-speed manual automated manual with a full standing height cab.
HCVA claims that the light duty market is its first aim and some domestic testing has already been carried out with some line haul testing likely to take place in 2017.
There will be three models offered in the Mighty range initially starting with the EX4 powered by the 3.9 litre 103kW/392 Nm four cylinder turbo diesel powering through a five speed manual with no automatic available at this stage.
The lack of an auto will be the biggest hurdle for Hyundai in its quest for a ten per cent market share with the Japanese brands now selling large numbers of automatic and AMT equipped trucks with the number of manuals sold diminishing.
EX4 and its larger brother the EX6 will be both be available in short and medium wheelbase variants and with a choice of standard and supercabs. The EX6 uses the same engine but re rated to produce 125 kW and 610 Nm again using the same five speed as the EX4.
The EX8 is a 7.5 tonne model using the 125 kW engine from the EX6 but with a six speed manual instead of the five speed in the smaller trucks. EX6 will come in three wheelbase configurations; medium, long and extra long and standard and superb as well.
Hyundai is hoping the fact that it can offer factory fitted bodies with an all encompassing single warranty will add appeal with a three year/200,000km warranty and 24/7 roadside as standard.
It is also banking on fleets embracing safety with four wheel disc brakes, Vehicle Dynamic Control and shock absorbing steering and Hill Start Assist across all models as standard while the Mighty will also feature longer multi-leaf rear springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, as well as a zinc galvanised cabin.
Hyundai says its EX4 medium wheel base standard cab model will retail for a recommended price of $39,990 while a factory tipper version will retail for $47,990, the factory pan tech from $51,990 and a refrigerated pan tech version for $59,990.
The truck trade press is yet to drive the new Hyundai’s as the launch was merely an unveiling so any impressions of the Mighty will come later, however no matter how well the new trucks may drive and how well priced they are, Truck & Bus believes HCVA will have a tough road ahead to meet its own market expectations. the Australian market is littered with brands that have had grand visions of market acceptance but which have struggled when the rubber hits the road.
Only time will tell if Hyundai can make it happen.