Hyundai’s latest surprise
Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (Hari), headed by its president and CEO Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, has a history of delivering surprises.
Hari’s latest surprise: its impending mega invasion of the fast-growing truck and bus sector.
Starting with only five dealers in 2001, Hari sprang its first surprise in 2010 when it clinched the coveted No. 3 spot in overall industry sales, the first non-Japanese brand to do so.
In February 2016, Hari mildly surprised everyone when it held a press conference in Manila where it signed a contract with Hyundai Motor Company for the exclusive Philippine distributorship of Hyundai commercial vehicles (CVs).
Then, a few weeks ago came a bigger surprise: Hari announced that the Hyundai Logistics Center in Calamba, Laguna, which was inaugurated in May 2015, had been expanded to add the Hyundai Assembly Center producing the Eon mini subcompact and the H350, an upscale CV.
To promulgate its plan to invade the truck and bus sector in a mega way, Hari invited some media to the Hyundai truck and bus mega fair 2017 in Kintex, South Korea, last Friday.
One hundred seventy CVs were showcased at the 90,000-square meter outdoor Kintex exhibition center, including 100 special purpose vehicles (fire truck, ambulance, dump truck and crane, among others) including an electric bus that seats 27+1 and runs 290 kilometers on a single charge, plus 20 off-road and test drive vehicles.
There was even a truck containing washing machines.
In the Hyundai CV lineup, the Xcient was the biggest and most impressive truck, while the H350, called the Solati in Korea, was the tallest, most spacious premium minibus on display.
The H350, already being sold in the Philippines, is the CV that Hari wants most to promote.
In an on-the-spot interview at the mega fair, Agudo revealed that the CV business would represent about 10 percent of Hari’s total business volume in the next five years, poised to double by another five years.
“We want to have a forward leap every five years as we want to go for Hyundai’s vision of the Top 5 Global Challenge by 2020 for the CV business,” she said.
“We will realign our goals and our targets to help make Hyundai one of the top five global players in the truck and bus market by 2020,” she added.
Hari research indicates that sales of trucks and buses in the Philippines grew by 33 percent in 2016. CVs made up the bulk of local vehicle sales, reaching as much as 64 percent in 2016.
Since passenger vehicle sales in the rest of the Asean comprise two-thirds of the market, the Philippines has a relatively larger market for AUVs, light CVs, trucks and buses compared to other Asean countries.
Other factors encouraging investment in the CV business are the rising demand for buses given the government’s mandate that bus companies (21 in Metro Manila alone) must replace their aging buses with new fleets, and the increasing demand for trucks to deliver, complete and sustain the government’s acceleration of infrastructure projects estimated at P8-9 trillion from 2017-2022.
Of the 170 CVs displayed at the mega fair, Agudo said that the HD 65/72/78 light-duty trucks (gross vehicle weight of up to 8.2 tons) will initially be made available in the Philipppines, with medium- and heavy-duty trucks (gross vehicle weight of 12 tons and above) to follow.
Hyundai special vehicles, such as fuel tanks, fire trucks, ambulances, car carriers and dump trucks, will also be brought to the Philippines.
“Any specific business purpose or need can be met by Hyundai’s CV product line,” Agudo pointed out. “Hyundai special vehicles are available in over 150 different models, and are sold in more than a hundred countries.
“Our advantage is that our CVs can be customized. Hyundai has ready body builders and suppliers to support the cab and chassis framework to make fire trucks, ambulances, and whatever CV model is required.”
Agudo also mentioned the Universe bus, which provides luxurious long-distance mass transport, and the Country (24+1 and 29+1 seater) for business mobility and H350 for small business mobility.
By supplying bus operators with safe, comfortable, efficient and eco-friendly passenger buses, Hyundai will help decongest traffic in Metro Manila and other urban centers as more commuters switch to public transportation, Agudo said.
She cited the added advantage of Hari’s existing nationwide dealership network, 10 of which will have dedicated CV dealership facilities that are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.
CV technicians from Hyundai Motor Korea have jetted in to train local teams on technical as well as customer concern handling.
“As we position the Hari CV division to be the Filipino’s lifetime provider of sustainable customer solutions in their freight, payload and mass mobility needs, we open new venues to drive the ascent of the Philippine economy,” Agudo concluded.