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Hyundai on a roll, gears up for product blitzkrieg in 2015

V Rishi Kumar | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 05, 2014

Going strong: New models from Hyundai, like the i20 elite, have been doing well   -  S. MURALIDHAR

Sales expected to cross four lakh units this calendar year



Hyundai Motor Company is on a roll in India. As it gets set to close calendar 2014 with annual sales of over 400,000 units for the first time, the company is upbeat about prospects for 2015.

Its new models, the i10 Grand, Xcent and i20 Elite, have been doing well with Elite alone having received over 50,000 bookings. This kind of market response will ensure that domestic sales will inch close to 420,000 units by end-December. With good volumes coming in from new models, Hyundai’s market share here is poised to inch past the 17 per cent mark.

Expansion plans

Young Jin Ahn, Chief Coordinator, Sales & Marketing Division, says the company’s Chennai plant is functioning at 99.8 per cent capacity. With India’s automotive market projected to double to over five million units by 2020, Hyundai will need to consider expanding operations.

Whether this will happen in Chennai or a new facility elsewhere remains to be seen. As Ahn reiterates, any call to create new capacity will be taken by the parent company in Seoul. Hyundai will have to either cut down on exports to add volumes in the domestic market, or simply increase capacity at its existing facility. The export requirements can be handled by other units overseas as was the case not-so-long ago when Turkey took over from India to cater to the European market.

Ahn says Hyundai will launch the Elite crossover early next year. Crossovers from Volkswagen (Polo), Fiat (Avventura) and Toyota (Etios) have become popular and Elite will, likewise, target this emerging segment of buyers. Hyundai will then gear up for an all-new compact SUV, a segment which is gaining ground rapidly thanks to models like the Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster.

Fond farewell

The time has also come for Hyundai to bid adieu to the model that kicked off its India innings, the Santro. Launched in 1998, this compact car was the first serious rival to market leader, Maruti Suzuki.

The Santro caught the fancy of the market and Hyundai signalled its India intent.

This was something that not even a diehard optimist would have predicted for a largely unknown Korean auto brand way back in the 1990s. It was a carefully thought out strategy which involved launching the right product and roping in a celebrity like Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassador.

The Santro has had a good run and Hyundai would clearly like to take the India story forward with new products with a focus on style and design. The entry-level Eon was the first part of this renewed strategy with the (new) i10, i20 and Xcent following suit.

Even though Hyundai had established its India presence with the Santro and Accent in the late-‘90s, there was a brief period when it seemed as if it had just slowed down a bit in India. Perhaps, this had to do with the fact that the Korean carmaker was now rapidly spreading its wings across the world.

Today, it is among the top six global automobile brands and along with subsidiary, Kia, keen on strengthening its presence.

India is clearly a region the company cannot ignore and this explains the recent flurry of launches which have hit the sweet spot. After all, this is the fastest growing car market after China. For the moment, Brazil and Russia have their own problems to deal with which leaves India as a particularly attractive opportunity for the likes of Hyundai which are no strangers to this part of the world.

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Published on December 05, 2014
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