MADRID – Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd.’s deal with Spanish importer Berge Automocion for distribution of commercial vehicles in Spain and Portugal comes as a surprise to industry watchers here, who point to a declining CV market in Spain and Berge’s recent pullout of a similar arrangement with Isuzu Motors Ltd.

Under the agreement, Berge will create a new company, Hyundai Trucks Iberia, and begin building a Hyundai distribution network during the first half of 2011, starting with 12 authorized dealers in Spain and three in Portugal. A total of up to 30 dealers is targeted for 2012.

Hyundai wants to sign similar agreements in other countries to broaden penetration of the CV market in Europe.

Only Hyundai’s HD55 and HD65 trucks for 5.5t-6.5t gross-vehicle-weight class will be marketed initially, but the auto maker would like to broaden the lineup to include all of its bus and truck models within the next four years.

Berge had distributed Hyundai cars in Spain and Portugal for 20 years, but Hyundai took control of that network about a year ago.

Berge, which had controlled distribution of Isuzu trucks in Spain and Portugal for years, gave up its rights in May following a steady decline in volume. Isuzu transferred distribution in Spain and Portugal to Italy’s Midi Europe S.R.L.

About 900 Isuzu pickups were delivered through Berg in 2007, but sales dropped to 447 in 2009. Demand for N-Series CVs fell from a peak of 517 in 2007 to 248 in 2009.

Analysts say the Spanish CV market has been contracting overall for the past two years. Sales of 3.5t-6t class this year through October dropped 15.6% vs. year-ago. Demand in the 6t-15.9t sector fell 10%.

Berge had suggested it would find a replacement for its Isuzu business, possibly through a link with China’s Dongfeng Motor Corp. It now is expected to use the remains of its former Isuzu distribution network as the starting point for its Hyundai dealer network. Currently, Berge markets and distributes 29 auto brands in Spain, Portugal, Poland, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Mexico. The list of brands represented by the importer includes Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Maserati and BYD.