Commercial vehicle push for Hyundai

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Commercial vehicle push for Hyundai

Hyundai Motor will invest big to strengthen its competitiveness in the commercial vehicle market, which is a potential growth driver globally for the nation’s leading automaker.

The company said Monday that it will invest 2 trillion won ($1.82 billion) through 2020 to expand its facilities, including the production line at the Jeonju plant in North Jeolla.

“About 400 billion won will be spent on improving production capacity while about 1.6 trillion won will be invested in R&D, including developing new engines,” the company said in a statement. “Facilities to improve customer service, including the Global Training Center [GTC], will be established in the plant as well.”

The company said its global market share for commercial vehicles last year was 2.1 percent, and it wants to improve its competitiveness because the market has been growing consistently. From 2004 to last year, the company’s production increased 27 percent.

The global market for commercial vehicles last year was 3.12 million units, and it is predicted to grow by 27 percent, or 3.96 million units, through 2020, according to the company.

The first step to improve competitiveness is increasing production. Until last year, a total of 65,000 vehicles per year were produced at the Jeonju plant, but the company aims to produce 100,000 units annually at Jeonju by 2020.

In order to accomplish the task, the company said it will hire 1,000 workers and send some researchers to the Namyang Research Institute, the company’s main R&D center, as part of plans to improve R&D for commercial vehicles like trucks and buses.

The company said it hopes to increase total annual output to 85,000 units by 2017 and 100,000 units by 2020 by adding a premium model for advanced markets and a new low-price model for newly industrialized markets. The company added that it will sell new models in regions the company hasn’t yet entered, such as Western Europe or North America.

The company said the GTC will be more than just a customer service training center as it will also operate a car theme park that it expects to attract 40,000 people, including consumers and employees, per year.

“What we are trying to do with the GTC is we want to respond to consumers’ needs as quickly as possible,” said a Hyundai Motor spokesman. “We also want commercial vehicle workers to learn from the people in the passenger car business, which has been successfully improving its global market competitiveness in the past few years.”

Hyundai Motor Group is the world’s fifth-largest automaker in the passenger car industry.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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