By Steve Laser
It’s hard to keep something this big under wraps. For months we’ve seen spy photos of a full-size van being tested in Europe. It was rumored to be a Hyundai. And now it’s no longer a secret. Hyundai Motor Europe has introduced its all-new H350 full-size cargo and passenger van at a commercial vehicle show in Germany.
At first glance, Hyundai appears to have done its homework. The H350 looks similar to European stalwarts like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit and Fiat Ducato. Hyundai says H350’s flexible rear-wheel-drive platform will be offered as a cargo van, passenger van and flatbed truck with seating for two all the way up to 15 passengers.
Hyundai says all versions will be powered by a 2.5-liter CRDI common-rail direct-injection 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission. To support heavy loads, the MacPherson strut front suspension features a transverse leaf with gas shocks while a parabolic spring leaf design brings up the rear.
The modern cabin offers creature comforts including a full-color 4.2-inch LCD display, navigation and parking assistance, a cooler function for the glovebox and a roof-mounted air conditioning system.
Safety features include Vehicle Dynamic Control, Hydraulic Brake Assist, Hill-Start Assist Control, plus available Emergency Stop Signal, Lane Departure Warning, and Roll Over Mitigation. The full monocoque chassis features up to 75 percent high-strength steel and employs a closed ring structure for added strength.
While export plans have not been announced, we believe that Hyundai’s U.S. operations would jump at the chance to add commercial vehicles to its lineup. However, the U.S. government’s decades-old “Chicken Tax” that places a 25 percent tariff on imported light trucks means that the cargo version would either have to be assembled from knock-down kits or built locally.
Korean media reports that H350 will go on sale in Germany, Italy, France and Russia in mid-2015. Hyundai has apparently partnered with Karsan, a Turkish commercial vehicle manufacturer, to assemble the vehicles.
When Hyundai picks a new segment to compete, it typically creates products that are well-built, highly competitive and value-priced. Perhaps the H350 will one day become the van of choice for American delivery, shuttle and fleet users.
Models, features and specifications are subject to change without notice
News source and photos courtesy of Hyundai Motor Corp.
Story (commentary) © 2014 CarNichiWa.com