King Long takes new direction

By: Graham Gardiner

King Long Australia has changed its name to Heavy Vehicles Australia (HVA) in a move to allow the business to allow the business to sell a greater range of Chinese bus brands in the Australian market.

The name change follows Managing Director and part owner Adrian van Geelen’s departure from the company.

Chairman Simon Cowen – whose family is a major shareholder in the company along with Chinese national Lei He – says the principals have decided to expand the product offering in response to market demand.

HVA unveiled a 20-seat minibus – sourced from Chinese manufacturer Golden Dragon – at the Australian Bus & Coach Show in Sydney earlier this year and has agreements with other Chinese producers to introduce more brands to the local market "down the track".

Previously the company’s stable was limited to King Long vehicles, including a low-floor city bus, a school bus and a charter bus.

"The original plan was definitely [to deal with] King Long only. But we found other opportunities, and other Chinese manufacturers were coming to us because [they saw] we could bring good engineering expertise to their vehicles [to make them more saleable] in the developed world," he says.

Cowen says HVA now has a "nice range" of vehicles to offer the Australian market.

He says sales of the 6126 AU (12.5m) school, tour or charter bus have been continually improving and are now in service from North Queensland to West Australia.

The first of the Australian designed and engineered 6122 AU (12.5m) and 6180 AU (18m artic) low-floor city buses, introduced o the local market in 2009 and mounted on MAN chassis, have entered service on the demanding Tullamarine to Melbourne city route operated by the Cowen family’s SkyBus operation.

And the latest addition to the King Long range, the 6900 and 6930 AU midi school or charter buses, are already proving a popular choice across the country.

Cowen says the first production model of the Golden Drago mini-bus has landed on Australian shores, with initial deliveries scheduled for the first half of 2010.

"HVA has something to suit every 20-plus seat transport application. The development does not stop there; however, as we constantly listen to customers and are developing new vehicles in answer to their requirements," he says.

Following the departure of van Geelen – who Cowen says made a "great contribution in developing the business concept and starting the company’s operations" – the company is close to announcing a new general manager to lead the company on its next phase of growth.

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