Higer teams up with Aussie auto giants

White Motor Corporation has stitched a deal to market Higer buses through Australia’s two largest automotive dealerships, Automotive Holdings Group and Adtrans

Higer teams up with Aussie auto giants
Higer teams up with Aussie auto giants

By David Goeldner | June 16, 2010

White Motor Corporation (WMC) has stitched a deal to market Higer buses through Australia’s two largest automotive dealerships, Automotive Holdings Group (AHG) and Adtrans.

Shannon Taylor, the Australia and New Zealand Sales Manager for WMC – which has the regional distribution rights to the Higer brand – says more details about the partnering arrangement with AHG and Adtrans will be announced at this month’s 2010 BusVic Expo.

He says the deals with AHG in Adelaide and Adtrans in Perth give Higer a stronger presence in key capital cities.

It follows the recruitment of dealerships in the key regional centres of Cairns and the Sunshine Coast. Higer has also added two small dealers in Melbourne and NSW.

"This [focus on regional centres] was done to check for [Higer’s] suitability and reliability for the Australian market," Taylor says.

"We took a cautious approach, but now that we have belief in the product we’re very much convinced of its suitability."

A key focus of Higer’s marketing is smaller city and larger regional operators, mainly due to larger urban operators having built their fleets around European chasses.

The addition of Adtrans in Adelaide and AHG in Perth completes the network of Higer dealerships across Australia.

Taylor says Higer is aiming at 14 dealerships across the country, with coverage on the eastern seaboard from Melbourne to Cairns, as well as Adelaide, Perth and Darwin.

The strategy is to have a dealership network with outlets only a few hundred kilometres apart, which he says is achievable through the AHG and Adtrans deal.

All dealers will offer around the clock break down and repair services.

"What they (AHG and Adtrans) bring to the table is size, strength and reputation," he says.

An enlarged dealership network will support Higer’s planned expansion of its product range.

Higer is set to introduce the 28-seat Munro to compete with Mitsubishi’s Rosa and the Toyota Coaster in the small bus market.

Taylor says the decision to bring the Munro across from China is aimed at grabbing a slice of this class, which in 2009 saw 1,600 buses sold between Mitsubishi and Toyota.

Higer plans to release five models in Australia in 2010-11, and then select more from its vast range of about 100 different makes in coming years.

The starting selections to complement the Munro are four small coach style units, ranging from an 8.5-metre 33 seater, to a 9.2-metre 39 seater, to a 10.5-metre 45 seater and the 12.2-metre 57-seat ‘SchoolBoss’.

Taylor is confident Higer’s experience in ‘pumping out’ up to 25,000 buses annually from China’s Suzhou plant will influence Australian buyers.

Higer is the world’s third-largest bus manufacturer, and every Higer bus arrives from China fully compliant to Australian Design Rules.

Taylor says Higer’s use of Cummins engines and Allison transmissions means access to service support in far flung parts of the country, such as in mining centres where there are plans to target that industry.

"We are confident to move forward with what we have from Higer’s range and now it’s up to us to take advantage," he says.

Taylor adds that competitor BCI did Higer a favour by testing the Australian market with its Chinese-sourced product.

"BCI have done a good job in converting operators to a complete Chinese-built unit," he says.

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