Hyundai showcases its new Universe


Hyundai Automotive South Africa showcased its new luxury coach at the Johannesburg International Motor Show. The coach is intended specifically for the transport of teams and VIP guests during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Johannesburg – With the 2010 FIFA World Cup steadily approaching, organisers and sponsors are frantically at work to ensure that the tournament is rated as a success. One of the major focus areas that will determine the success of the FIFA 2010 World Cup is the implementation of practical and reliable transport system.

The South African government, through the Department of Transport (DoT) is well aware of the challenges. Earlier this year the DoT took another step to ensure that it is ready to deliver on its commitment. It issued a request for proposals for the Inter City bus and coach requirement for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The project encompasses all the needs of the various stakeholders which include FIFA, MATCH and the LOC. According to the DoT a fleet of 1422 buses and coaches will be required.

A number of bus and coach operators and manufacturer’s attended a tender related briefing which was hosted by the DoT. Among them were representatives from Hyundai Automotive South Africa (HASA).

“As a FIFA partner our colleagues from Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) are totally committed to the success of every FIFA event, but in particular the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” said Stanley Anderson, Director of Marketing and After-sales at HASA. “It is the premier occasion on the FIFA calendar and the event during which the Hyundai and FIFA partnership realises its full potential.”

Hyundai’s involvement with the 2010 FIFA World Cup revolves around the provision of vehicles. These vehicles are utilised by FIFA and the LOC before and during the event.

“We delivered our first batch of vehicles in 2007 already,” said Anderson. “In total HMC is obligated provide close on 700 vehicles to FIFA and the LOC for use before and during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”

HMC also has a contractual obligation to deliver coaches for the teams and VIP guests. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany HMC leased coaches from operators. These coaches were all from other manufacturer’s although they were wrapped in Hyundai branding. For 2010 the plan is different.

At the 2008 Johannesburg International Motor Show Hyundai unveiled its Universe. A luxury 40-seat coach intended for the teams and VIP guests during 2010.

“Hyundai is an established brand in the passenger and light commercial vehicle segments in South Africa,” said Anderson. “We even boast two very capable medium commercial vehicles, but to be previewing a luxury coach is truly a first for our company. HMC have spent over $100 million on the development of the right-hand drive version of its Universe coach. The quality is clearly visible and its potential for practical application will become evident if we are fortunate to be awarded a portion of the DoT tender.”

The Universe is a 4×2 luxury coach driven by a 380ps engine. It allows for the transport of up to 40 passengers with their luggage. The 40-seat version of the Universe also comes standard with a toilet.

In the past tour operators and manufacturers have been sceptical about coaches with single rear axles. This has mainly been due to the risk of overloading and the inconvenience caused to tourists as a result of having to off load in the middle of a trip.

Hyundai have overcome this obstacle by applying a lightweight Monocoque body design instead of the conventional decking method whereby the body and chassis are manufactured separately and assembled just before or after being shipped to its final destination.

“The manufacturing method applied by HMC is not new, but it in the past it has been more expensive so it was less popular,” said Anderson. “The lightweight body enabled HMC’s designers to work on an average weight of 95kg per passenger when completing the seat layout for the Universe. This means that the Universe will be able to carry 40 passengers, weighing an average of 75kg and carrying an additional 20kg item or items of luggage.”

An important part of the DoT transport plan is the reintegration of the 1422 buses and coaches into legacy areas. Although it is not yet clear what this will entail an obvious destination for the luxury coaches would be the parking lots of smaller, start-up tour operators. For this purpose the Hyundai Universe would be ideal.

“Although the requirement during the World Cup will be for luxury buses with larger seating capacities the need following the tournament will be slightly different,” said Anderson. “It can be expected that the tourism industry will reset itself to slightly better than pre-2010 levels. On average tour groups will consist of between 30 and 36 tourists at a time. This makes the Universe the very economically viable as it would be running at its optimum effectiveness.”