People might be surprised by the sophistication of the new Hyundai Xcient prime mover which has recently arrived from South Korea. Diesel News took the new model for a test drive to see exactly where this kind of truck sits in the Australian truck market.
The arrival of a completely new truck on the Australian truck market does not come around that often. The arrival of a completely new brand in the Australian prime mover market is even rarer.
This is is what we have with the arrival on our shores of the Hyundai Xcient, now on a tour of Australia visiting the various Hyundai truck outlets around the country. There have been Hyundai trucks for sale in recent years and after a couple of false starts the brand has developed a fledgling network to sell the new models. The trucks on sale, up to now, have been light duty models only, selling in low numbers, but rising over time.
Unlike the Chinese truck brands which have dipped their toe in the Australian truck market, there is no suggestion that the overall quality of the trucks is in question. The operation has been low key, but is developing its presence over time.
Hyundai have chosen to take on three powerhouses in the Australian truck market, the Japanese trio of Isuzu, Hino and Fuso, all very strong in light duty. Truck dealership groups across Australia have relationships with one or more of these three and are unlikely to add another similar brand to the mix.
This has had the effect of limiting the opportunity for Hyundai to grow the dealership group fast. Those already selling the light duty offering for Hyundai are niche players in specific areas. The introduction of a heavy duty model will open up extra opportunities and may interest new sellers for the brand.
Hyundai moved into the Australian car market in a similar fashion, slowly building numbers before achieving better success, with a series of models, which have done well in Australia. The company began in 1967 in South Korea making Ford Cortinas for the domestic market, before developing its own models in the seventies and then extending overseas with its Excel model.
Out of the Box Sophistication
The surprise package of the Xcient is just how big a jump this is for the Hyundai brand, this model is an out of the box entry onto the Australian truck market. This is the arrival of a fully formed sophisticated truck with all of the bells and whistles we would expect from a highway prime mover. There are no baby steps from Hyundai, it’s straight in at the high end.
The Xcient is clearly modelled on all of the characteristics we know from European truck manufacturers. This is not the cheap copy style we have seen from the Chinese, this is more of an homage, attempting to match the European style and quality. The style and quality may not match that from the European truck makers, but Hyundai are clearly heading in the right direction.
The exterior design is more than a nod to the latest Scania cabin and the next generation Iveco S-Way recently released in Europe. Inside the storage lockers have a very Volvo looking design, without the reassuring clunk, when they are opened and closed.
First sight of the dashboard layout may leave you surprised by the sophistication of the new Hyundai, it seems to be an amalgam of every European truck you have driven. There is a familiarity to the way the driver interface has been designed, which makes it easy to work out which control does which task from the very beginning.
When the Chinese copy European design they are often let down by the use of inadequate cheaper materials and lower quality production finishing. This is not the case with the Xcient, the materials may not be the highest quality but the finishing is excellent.