‘Customers of Hyundai need not worry about technology’

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on October 23, 2015

Bo Shin Seo, MD and CEO, HMIL

We are exporting to newer markets from India, says Hyundai Motor India CEO

For Hyundai Motor India (HMIL), it’s nearly two decades existence here has been a learning experience. The company that used to develop most of its critical engineering parts in Korea (headquarters) earlier has now started doing research and development (R&D) works at its centre in Hyderabad. Quality of seating, engine performance, and small parts like electronic horn in recently launched Creta SUV was part of its R&D at Hyderabad. Bo Shin Seo, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, HMIL, told BusinessLine that since India is a diverse country with extreme climates in certain areas, the company has to develop products according to the market conditions. Excerpts from an interview:

Is HMIL looking at more premium/ luxurious products for the Indian market?

The Indian customers are recognising more luxurious/ premium materials and the companies have to understand this. We have long-term plans in India and we do recognise that.

Therefore, our products are also getting premium. The best examples are the Elite i20 and Creta SUV that we have launched recently.

How about safety, especially after the Government has announced to make certain equipment such as ABS and airbags as standard by 2017?

We already have the technologies in place. Things like check on safety and crash tests are already in place in our Chennai plant. Customers of Hyundai need not worry about such technology. We are also working on eco-friendly cars.

How about hybrid cars? Some of the companies have already launched certain products.

The market for hybrid or fuel-cell cars is still small. But, if the market is prepared, Hyundai can bring such products soon to the Indian market as well.

Can you give some examples on how your vendors are involved in developing new models?

We have something called ‘Guest engineering’ where we involve our vendors and partners in the product development stage itself. They are part of our system and Hyundai Motor verifies based on the brief given to them.

Lot of our vendors and team from Hyderabad R&D centre also go to Hyundai headquarter in Korea to get training, education to improve our supply chain and quality levels. That is why it has improved a lot now and our products have improved more than 50 per cent now compared to five years ago. For example, in Creta our auditors did not find any supply problem as compared to earlier days when we had to return many parts after quality check. You learn good things when you become older here. We also check all the durability so that it does not become a problem later.

How many engineers are there in Hyderabad R&D now?

We have more than 600 engineers now and in Chennai we have around 70 people. We will add more people in future, depending on our future plans. We will try to increase the number of people continuously as we will need more people as the Hyderabad team is now also involved in developing newer engines.

With competition coming for each segment, how do you plan to tackle it?

We have the full line-up from the Eon to SantaFe. But, we have the plan to roll out two new models every year, which means we will launch next generation of our current models. We also have planned to launch a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), but we have not finalised the timeframe yet.

Will you showcase the MPV at the upcoming Auto Expo?

We are at the developing stage right now and have not decided yet whether to showcase it at the Auto Expo or not.

We have a big line-up of products that will be showcased and most of them will be global products. They will be less of India-specific. We will show our design and technology. We will decide soon on the products to be displayed at the show.

What are the reasons for the fall in your exports over the last few months?

We have been concentrating on the domestic market and now some models like the i10 and i20 are being shipped from Hyundai’s Turkey plant for the European markets. So HMIL does not need to take care of European markets from here and instead we are exporting to newer markets from India. But, still around 35 per cent of our productions go to the export markets and we are evaluating newer markets in South America, African countries and North-East Asian countries. Some of them are already part of our exports now.

Till last year we had exported to 120 countries, but it has come down to 85 countries as of now (excluding Europe) and we are slowly adding more countries to reach to that level again. These days, markets in Africa, South America and Asia are hubs for exports.

There still is lot of waiting for Elite i20 and Creta. When do you plan to expand your plants’ capacities to meet the demand on time? Do you plan to start a new plant to meet the growing demand?

For both Creta and Elite i20, we are increasing the capacity from December so that we can ease out the waiting period for the customers. The Creta and i20 both are produced at the level of around 7,000 a month right now, which will be raised to around 9,000-10,000 units a month from December. We will add around 2,000 units every month from then for such particular models.

We are utilising our Chennai plant at the maximum level right now (around 96 per cent) of the total capacity of seven-lakh units a year.

At the moment we don’t have any plans to bring a new plant.

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Published on October 23, 2015
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