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New HIGER models for Australian Market

Sunday, September 1, 2013

After officially launching its Series II Munro coach this week, Higer is looking to the future, with big plans for its Australian operations including a number of new models, model upgrades and a dedicated Australian-market production line.

CEO of Australia's Higer distributor WMC Group, Neil Bamford, said Australia was considered an important market for the Higer brand.

"Because Australian regulations and requirements are so demanding, we're a perfect market for Higer to determine what level of demand there is for new products before they're launched into the larger European and American markets. Higer sales in Australia are around 200-300 buses per year compared to Higer's global production of about 20,000 vehicles annually, but we receive a disproportionately large amount of Higer's R&D investment.

"Higer is performing very strongly here. Since launching in Australia over five years ago we've become the fastest selling brand in the country and have been the market leaders in the coach and school bus sectors over the past two years."

Neil attributes the rapid growth in Australia to well-priced buses using quality international components, distributed through a strong dealer network that offers exceptional after sales service and parts availability.

Neil has now implemented a raft of changes at the WMC group, designed to reinforce Higer's robust market position.

"We made a number of changes to our business approach earlier this year. As part of our proactive quality control process we've adopted a policy of flying Australian staff to the Higer production facility to inspect all new products as they come off the production line. Moving this check to the pre-dispatch phase means any issues can be identified and rectified very quickly.

"We've also brought pre-delivery inspections into our depots so everything is checked and every vehicle test driven by Higer experts before products go out to dealerships. We're also focused on our ongoing technical training program for staff and we're working to expand our dealer network."

On the product offering side, Neil said the brand is likely to launch two new 18T compliant coaches with electronic stability control. The models will include a 12.3 m variant and a larger 12.5 m model with increased bin space.

"A contingent of Higer factory engineers is in Australia now talking to operators and reporting on the Australian market, and it's quite likely we'll also have a 4WD offering for the mining and tourism sectors in the near future," Neil said.

With Higer performing so well in Australia, Neil said it was possible the brand would implement a dedicated production line for Australia-bound models. "If we maintain our current sales trajectory it's a definite possibility in the short term," he said.

Higer global GM makes first visit to Australia

Senior management from Higer's headquarters in China visited Australia for the national Bus and Coach Show and to officially launch the series II Munro small coach. The new Munro has recently been upgraded with over 200 modifications after Australian and Chinese Higer staff worked alongside client Murrays to enhance the model.

Higer global general manager Mr Wu Wenwen said there were exciting times ahead for the brand in Australia.

"We see great potential in this market and Higer is very much committed to continued growth in Australia. We have an extensive range of product upgrades and new product launches planned over the next six to 12 months. We're looking forward to working closely with our Australian distributor WMC to continue to grow our market share here with quality vehicles and exceptional customer support," Mr Wu said.

Mr Wu was joined on his Australian visit by Mr Li Jiang, Deputy Director of Higer's Technology Centre, and Mr Meng Zhaojun, Quality Control Specialist. 

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