When a company says they want to be a top five player in the highly competitive world of construction equipment manufacturers then, most of the time, I’d take this statement with a large pinch of salt. Using last year’s Yellow Table, International Construction’s ranking of the world’s top OEMs by sales as a reference, breaking into the top five requires sales of approximately US$11 billion. However, when the company has two well established and global players then they have to be taken seriously. Breaking into the top five is the goal of Hyundai Genuine, the holding company of Hyundai Construction Equipment (Hyundai CE) and what used to be Doosan Infracore and is now Develon. At ConExpo I spoke to Seunghyun Oh, CEO of Develon and Albert (Seunghyun) Roh, Product Director for Develon in Europe about their ambitious targets and also about the rebranding of Doosan to Develon.
“We had many ideas regarding the new brand name. But we selected Develon; it is the combination of two words: develop and onwards. We will continuously develop a better product for customers and better solutions for smart construction,” comments Oh.
Every machine that is produced from ConExpo onwards will be under the Develon name and branding. However, they revealed that for equipment that has been produced in 2023 but before the event the company will, “support some rebranding for the existing machines at the dealers yard” but that the policy differs from country to country.
Develon and Hyundai CE are sister companies operating under the holding company Hyundai Genuine. Those in charge have a balancing act to perform; the two brands need to look and feel sufficiently different but also make use of shared resources. One of the ways that the resources of the two companies is being leveraged is though research and development (R&D).
“We reorganised the R&D engineers, let them move into Hyundai Genuine where they are going to develop a base technology for autonomy and electrification,” explains Roh. “The two companies are separate but Hyundai Genuine, the holding company, leads on some of the advanced technology and the two sister companies are developing our existing products. We need to differentiate each product for each brand. But internally we are trying to get some synergy, particularly in R&D, procurement, and even in production.”
Develon and Hyundai CE working together where appropriate to develop new technologies and to save on costs is one way that Hyundai Genuine can push closer to the world’s biggest OEMs. Added to this is that the two executives clearly believe that there are opportunities in markets and product segments that haven’t been aggressively attacked before.
“We are targeting the global top five in the whole construction equipment industry. If I look into our current business performance product-wise, in excavators – such as crawler, wheeled and heavy excavator – we are seeing quite good results,” says Roh.
“However, when it comes to compact equipment, due to the history with Bobcat and Doosan, we haven’t invested as much as we could in the compact business. From now on we are trying to invest more in the compact business to get more volume. At the same time, we are also seeking some opportunity in the wheel-based products, such as wheel loader or articulated dump trucks.”
The company has recently added bulldozers to its product line up, something that the dealers are said to be very happy about. That’s the product side explained – what about different markets? “We are trying to invest more in the advanced market to become a real global top player,” says Roh. The CEO, Oh, agrees, adding, “We need to invest more in the North American market because the current presence is very low in terms of market share.”
Not just a concept
When it comes to R&D the two main areas of focus are electrification and automation. Develon has already produced a two tonne electric excavator – in our conversation they say that electrification is, “truly a mega trend for the future,” and that the company will, “develop quickly all lines of electric mini excavators.”
Regarding technology, the plans are larger and more ambitious than just autonomy and electrification; the company wants to help the whole of construction to be managed more efficiently. XiteCloud, which was first announced in 2020, is now taking its first steps towards commercialisation and is part of the company’s Concept-X project.
Concept-X is an integrated unmanned and automated control solution, first demonstrated to the world in 2019. This has developed into Concept-X2 which combines ICT and AI technologies. There will come a time when this isn’t a concept anymore.
“At the moment we are willing to develop continuously and upgrade the Concept-X. Now we have a version one and version two; maybe in three years, we can develop more realistic products for Concept-X,” reveals Oh.
“I am saying not only Concept-X; we will say product X. We will move to some real product not at the concept stage, that’s the plan.”
As well as the development of Concept-X into something that is commercially available, Oh says that in the next few years the company may develop not just new compact equipment but also even bigger equipment, such as at the top end of the size and weight scale when it comes to excavators and dump trucks. If the company doesn’t make their global top five ambitions, then it certainly won’t be for a lack of effort. iC