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Higer set to undercut city bus prices

City slicker: Higer is getting set to gun for the city bus market after taking on the coach brands.

City bus prices set to crash 40 per cent as Chinese manufacturer Higer expands

19 Dec 2011

THE Australian bus market is in for a price war with Chinese-made Higer city buses set to arrive Down Under within three months at prices 40 per cent below comparable current offerings from Australian manufacturers.

Importer WMC Group is also preparing to offer a lead time of just two months on bus orders, compared with up to nine months on rival urban commuter buses.

The company already offers a range of six multi-purpose coaches across Australia, from the 7.6-metre Munro to the 12.3-metre Roadboss, all made in China and shipped to Australia as completely built-up (CBU) vehicles.

WMC will target budget-conscious city transit operators with the new commuter buses that will be priced from about $350,000, compared with about $485,000 for a similar vehicle made in Australia on an imported rolling chassis.

Like the coaches, the city buses will be powered by Cummins engines with Allison transmissions, which WMC says gives operators piece of mind.

As well as diesel, Higer buses that run on compressed natural gas are also on offer in China, while hybrid is also a possibility.

 center imageWMC general manager Shannon Taylor said the expanded bus range would turn Higer from one of the fastest-growing bus companies in Australia to one of the biggest.

He said WMC's overall sales - including JAC and Joylong - was expected to grown from 300 units in 2011 to a couple of thousand next year.

Mr Taylor said Higer had already gone from eighth to first among non-city bus brands in Australia in just 12 months.

He said attractive pricing drew customers to the new Higer buses, but so did technical advantages.

“Price is part of the story, not the whole story,” he said.

Higer buses use major components from global suppliers such as Meritor Axles, Wabco Brakes and Alcoa Alloy Wheels, as well as Cummins and Allison.

In China, Higer offers a range of 15 city buses, as well as a big articulated BRT-Bus Rapid Transit unit.

The buses are made at Higer Bus Company’s factory at Suzhou, north of Shanghai, which also produces Scania buses for international markets.

The buses are expected to go on sale from February or March, around the same time that Higer dealers take delivery of their first van, from another Chinese manufacturer, Joylong.

Powered by a 2.8-litre ISF Cummins diesel engine, the 13-seat HiAce-style van will be offered in a passenger mini-bus format, giving Higer dealers a vehicle below the smallest Higer bus, the Munro.

WMC has a pilot production vehicle in Sydney for final shake-down testing and build quality checks ahead of volume production in the New Year.

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