Hyundai Proud sponsor of 2010 FIFA World Cup
As a proud sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Hyundai will enjoy the prestigious responsibility of transporting the event’s teams and managers. The esteemed sporting event is also the perfect time to introduce one of the world’s largest coach manufacturers to the South African market
As a local manager at Hyundai responsible for commercial vehicles, most notably our bus and coach division, I am often asked what Hyundai knows about commercial vehicles,” reveals Ettienne du Preez, manager: Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
“The simple answer is that Hyundai’s commercial vehicle plant is one of the largest in the world, capable of producing 125 000 units each year, of which 17 400 are buses. “We are present in 89 countries through 92 distributors. Hyundai’s state-of-the-art reinforced integrated coach design also means a lighter, safer coach that is more fuel efficient, better for the environment and is European Rollover regulation ECE-R66- compliant.
“Basically, we have one of the lightest, safest coaches in the world. We know a lot about coaches and what international markets require.”
As a traditional left-hand-drive (LHD) manufacturer, Hyundai has only entered the right-hand-drive (RHD) market in the last year. With the introduction of the new Universe to RHD markets, however, this is all changing.
A WHOLE NEW UNIVERSE
The first RHD model of the Universe was launched at the Japanese Motor Show just prior to the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) in October 2008. The South African market was offered a preview of Hyundai’s luxury coach at JIMS as well, although the manufacturer will only officially launch the Universe in the local market later this year.
The launch will follow hot on the heels of 12 Universes already in use on South African roads. As an official FIFA partner, Hyundai was bound to supply transport to the teams and VIPs attending the recent Confederations Cup, even though the Universe has not yet been launched.
“This event was an ideal opportunity to introduce the Universe to local operating conditions and see how well it fared,” explains Du Preez. “Our luxury coach has a number of unique features that not only makes it ideal for South African operating conditions, but separates it from its competitors as well.” First, as a 39-seater, the Universe is able to offer more comfort and leg room than a traditional 45-seater coach. “Most operators do not need a luxury coach that seats more than 39 people,” says Du Preez. “Few tour groups are ever more than 35 people. Our coach gives added comfort while remaining lighter as well.”
South Africa’s legislation insists that no more than 10.2 t of weight be carried by the rear axle of a bus or coach. The law is designed to protect local road surfaces – it is not based on the safe load-carrying capabilities of bus axles and chassis. In Europe and elsewhere in the world, the rear axle can legally carry up to 14 t.
This law has resulted in local bus manufacturers and importers running a double rear axle. This adds weight to the overall bus, but it distributes said weight over a greater road surface. In terms of fuel efficiency, however, it is the operator who carries the extra cost.
Hyundai’s reinforced, integrated design means that its bus bodies are not fitted to a chassis in the traditional decking method. Instead, the bus is built-up as one unit. This, together with a reconfigured interior, with only 39 seats and a more even distribution of weight, allows the bus to run on a single rear axle – even under South Africa’s far stricter weight restrictions.
The structural integrity of the Universe is such that, should the bus be in an accident, the body will also not shatter or break into pieces. The integrated design ensures the body flexes instead, earning the coach a Euro IV standard for safety.
The result is a safer, lighter, more fuelefficient bus, which, based on the 12 models currently in use, is already a great success.
“Our drivers love the Universe,” confirms Lisa Hood, client relations manager at Springbok Atlas. “The drivers who operated the 12 Universe models during the Confederations Cup said the coaches drive like cars. They are smooth, comfortable and silent, and stick to the road beautifully. “An added bonus for us is fuel consumption: using lighter coaches naturally means less fuel is needed for the same trip.”
Passengers also enjoy added benefits. Over and above the additional legroom is an air-conditioning system capable of cooling down the entire bus within five minutes. While this is certainly a bonus for sportsmen, tourists visiting South Africa – particularly during the summer months – will relish the cool interior of their coaches while the African sun beats down overhead.
2010 AND BEYOND
As a FIFA partner, Hyundai has been tasked with providing transport for the visiting teams, dignitaries and FIFA VIP guests attending the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. This contract includes the provision of 609 passenger cars, along with approximately 175 coaches. Not all the coaches sourced for the event will be Hyundais, but the manufacturer aims to ensure that all 64 team and VIP coaches are.
The first 12 of these are already operational within the Springbok Atlas fleet. As the official operator for the World Cup, Springbok Atlas introduced the Universe to the local market on behalf of Hyundai during the recent Confederations Cup.
“One of the lessons learnt in Germany during the previous World Cup was to keep things simple,” explains Du Preez. “Too many operators complicate things. FIFA therefore requested that we nominate one local operator for the 2010 event. Springbok Atlas was the natural choice.”
Having already sourced 12 of the 64 coaches needed for the event, Hyundai expect Springbok to possibly secure a few more coaches, although other local operators are being targeted as well.
“During the actual World Cup, we will need to lease back any Universes we have sold to local operators other than Springbok Atlas,” says Du Preez. “Springbok Atlas will be the sole FIFA operator, but owners of Universe coaches are assured their coaches will be earning revenue during that time. They will also obviously have the prestige of knowing their coaches were involved in such a highprofile event.”
Hyundai’s entry into the South African market could not have taken place with more aplomb. Throughout the months of June and July 2010, Universe coaches will be at the centre of attention throughout the country, not to mention the scope of sales the FIFA partnership offers.
“We are entering the local market aggressively,” agrees Du Preez. “Local operators might not have been aware of Hyundai coaches a few months ago, but by 2010 we expect to be a well-known and respected player in the industry. There is no doubt that we are here to stay.”
Hyundai’s complete in-house control over design and production gives operators the added benefit of prompt delivery and design flexibility.
Instead of two different manufacturers designing and producing a particular model’s chassis and body, the Universe is 100% the product of Hyundai. “This means we are solely reliant on our own production schedules, and that we can easily adapt a model to meet an operator’s specific needs.” Hyundai is clearly ready to make its mark on the South African luxury coach market.