Higer: remember that name!
Undoubtedly, the main focus of global attention for the automotive industry for the next half a decade or so will be on the emergence of Chinese manufacturers as world players. Once the seemingly insatiable domestic demand for vehicles starts to flatten out, Chinese brands, both allied and independent, will turn their attention increasingly to exports, in an effort to sustain corporate growth. This is likely to apply equally to those specialising in passenger cars, trucks or buses.
Some, of course, will start their international efforts earlier than others. In the Chinese bus building community, there is one manufacturer that has already made an impression on markets not usually that receptive to newly arrived brands. Higer Bus Company Limited, which was established in 1998, has a 500 000 m² facility in Suzhou, near Shanghai, with an annual production capacity of 22 000 chassis and complete medium, large and city buses. This positions Higer as the world’s third largest bus producer, and ranks it considerably ahead of iconic global brands such as Volvo, Scania and MAN. During 2009, Higer shipped nearly 9 000 buses to countries such as Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Malaysia, and was ranked as China’s second biggest exporter. Higer has also established a partnership with Scania to manufacture complete buses and coaches for export, and some of these products have found their way into the Australian market during the past year.
The Australian distributor, White Motor Corporation, claims that the local bus community has come to appreciate the pricing, build quality and performance of the Higer product, and more than 100 units have been sold to date. This acceptance has been greatly facilitated by the fitment of familiar aggregates such as Cummins engines, Allison and ZF transmissions and Meritor axles in these buses. The present product lineup includes buses from six metres to 18 metres in length, and is made up of high-end tourist coaches and high capacity city commuter route buses. More models are planned for release in Australia during the current year.