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Hyundai’s big day

Tomorrow will be a big day for one manufacturer at the IAA in Hannover. Hyundai are due to pull the covers off their new H350, a 3.5-tonne panel van, chassis cab and minibus. 

There’s nothing unusual in the fact that a new vehicle is being launched it has after all been a busy year for new models, but what may take showgoers by surprise is that it is Hyundai who arguably have the biggest launch at the show.

They are a major player in the car market, but amongst light commercial vehicles they have a limited presence. The iLoad is a successful and competent vehicle, but in the UK we don’t get the volume, and much of the imports that do land in Blighty are of people carrier versions anyway. Here in Germany the story is much the same, the VW Transporter is king of the hill in these parts and a van like the iLoad simply doesn’t get a real look in.

So why you ask is tomorrow such a big day? Well, the market for 3.5 tonne vans is a lot more segmented, and particularly price sensitive too. Whereas smaller vans like the Transporter and even iLoad can often be found in domestic hands, large vans are predominantly fleet vehicles and for tradespeople. What I imagine Hyundai will offer tomorrow – if they are forthcoming with the finer details such as pricing and specification – is a large van to rival the specification of some Mercedes-Benz Sprinters and more luxurious trim level Ford Transits, but at price point more suited to the likes of Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall and Renault.

Of course this won’t be an issue for UK customers, as the vehicle is thought to be strictly European for the time being, but Hyundai haven’t discounted the idea of making it in right-hand-drive. I have a feeling that the success of the H350 in Europe – and its subsequent appearance in the UK – will largely hinge on the pricing and specification on offer. Too big a price point and customers won’t take the gamble on the unknown, too little in the way of gadgets and creature comforts and no matter what the price-point badge snobbery will kick in.

Tomorrow is then a very big day for Hyundai, those initial first impressions will be key, but in the long run tomorrows launch could have much wider ramifications for the entire 3.5 tonne segment. If it is a success, competition could become a lot more fierce at the bottom end, and that will only be good news for van buyers as manufactures push for your business.

Also lurking at the side of the stand was this covered smaller van – could we also be seeing a new look iLoad tomorrow? Check back tomorrow to find out and follow @VanAdvisor on Twitter for more from the show.

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