HVA sticks with BIC

Heavy Vehicles Australia won’t be joining a proposed Chinese Bus Importers Association

HVA sticks with BIC
HVA sticks with BIC

By David Goeldner | October 27, 2011

Heavy Vehicles Australia has refuted a suggestion put forward by WMC at the recent Australian Bus and Coach Show that it will join the mooted Chinese Bus Importers Association.

HVA General Manager Phil Ramsden says his company – the importer of King Long Buses from Xiamen in China – had not been approached to be part of the new industry association.

"It’s never been our intention to join this association," Ramsden says.

"We are members of the Bus Industry Confederation and we intend to remain members, to attend and sponsor events, and to participate in the confederation’s activities as actively as we can."

During BIC’s annual conference in Fiji, reference was made to the proposed Chinese Bus Importers Association by McConnell Seats CEO Alan Smith during a suppliers and operators panel session.

Referring to the Australian Bus and Coach Show and the BusVic Maintenance Conference and Bus Expo, Smith says there is a perception that all imported buses are displayed in one area at bus industry events.

"I believe an area of the Sydney Bus show was called ‘China Town’ and I think the challenge is for all of use to make sure that we make importers, whether they are Chinese or wherever they are from, as welcome to this industry as we are as locals, because they are here to stay," Smith says.

"Putting them at the back of every show and forming a little village called ‘China Town’ is not the way we should do things."

Smith says the Australian bus industry should ensure that bus importers become members of BIC.

Ramsden says the perception of a ‘China Town’ section at the Bus and Coach Show in Sydney was misleading.

"My observation of any of the shows is that the companies who are relative infants to the industry require additional floor space," he says.

"If you have been in the industry for 20 years you get ‘prime real estate’."

Ramsden says he didn’t feel disadvantaged by HVA’s floor space or position at the recent Sydney event.

"I think it is what it is, and that would be true of many events the world over," he says.

"As it happened at the Sydney Show, most of the suppliers in the car park area, which has been referred to as ‘China Town’, were not all Chinese – in fact this year the location worked quite well for us."

However, Ramsden agreed with Smith’s comments that recent bus importers should be encouraged to join BIC.

"I haven’t felt in any way excluded from BIC’s activities, be it as a sponsor or participant in the suppliers group," he says.

"That’s why we are quite happy to remain supporters."

Ramsden says BIC membership has several advantages.

"We get access to operators and suppliers at forums such as the national conference, and we get the opportunity to expose our product at product-based shows," he says.

"We sponsored the name tags for this year’s BIC conference as we did last year, and that sort of sponsorship, not only in terms of brand exposure, provides funds to BIC, which we are happy to do and see ourselves doing this well into the future."

Although WMC had not stated that HVA had confirmed membership of the new association, Ramsden says he intends asking the Higer-supplier’s CEO Jason Pecotic why the inference had been made that HVA would join.

The argument to join BIC’s suppliers group, as put forward by Ramsden and others at the recent BIC conference, relates to how the bus industry’s ‘line of demarcation’ continue to blur.

"We now have chassis suppliers importing fully-built vehicles, and selling them under their own brand with bodies built in other countries," Ramsden says.

"We see local body builders importing significant amounts of their content from overseas in terms of components, and in some cases partial buses built overseas."

Ramsden says supply chains are being extended, sourcing air-conditioning and seating from overseas.

"So the traditional lines between body, chassis, air-conditioning and seat supplier, local and imported, are blurring all the time – and that’s normal business," he says.

"People are seeking a commercial advantage in whatever way they see as appropriate."

Ramsden points out that HVA as an importer of King Long buses from China employs Australians.

"And we have significant input into the design of those buses," he says.

"So while we are the importer of a body manufactured in China we are doing that with significant Australian input and significant Australian investment in jobs and infrastructure here to support that."

On the matter of the Chinese Bus Importers Association, Ramsden says his company has never been aligned with the view that there is a need for a breakaway group, or the need to represent Chinese product any differently than do other suppliers in the industry.

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