Hyundai India’s Aggressive Product Strategy to Become India’s No 1 Car-Maker
The recent launch of the new Hyundai Grand i10 is just the opening shot fired by Hyundai India in its campaign to become the country’s largest car-maker. Presently, Hyundai is the second-largest by volume in the Indian passenger car market, but some way behind market leader Maruti. It does however, export more cars from India than any other manufacturer with a factory in India, something that the company is at pains to point out.
Hyundai has gone about its India business stoically and logically, keeping certain products like the Santro hatchback and the Accent sedan, which have been long phased out in other markets. It has also added the Eon, which in our opinion is the best sub-compact car available in the market today. The Grand i10 was also a well-thought-out move, like we elaborated in our road test, to enable Hyundai to gain sales and market share in the infinitely-fragmented hatchback segment.
What next from Hyundai though? To begin with, we’ll see the new Santa Fe SUV in our market early in 2014. Hyundai is still evaluating whether to import the Santa Fe as a CBU (completely built-up) product, or to assemble it in India from kits. Of course, the Santa Fe faces no competition from any product from Maruti, but it will compete with the likes of the fast-selling Toyota Fortuner, and other products like the Honda CR-V, Ford Endeavour and Chevrolet Captiva. Our sources within Hyundai have hinted that the company would like to see sales of over 5,000 units annually of the new Santa Fe.
A few months after the new Santa Fe, Hyundai will launch a compact sedan and a compact SUV, one after the other. This compact sedan will be based on the company’s new BA platform, which also forms the basis of the new Grand i10. This new sedan is intended to compete with the Maruti Dzire and the Honda Amaze. The Dzire has been India’s largest-selling car in recent months, a significant fact not lost on Hyundai. Expect this product to be both price competitive and feature-rich, the standard Hyundai recipe for market success.
Shortly after the compact sedan, Hyundai India will introduce its new compact SUV in our market. This new compact SUV will be a little larger than the Ford EcoSport, but slightly smaller than the Renault Duster / Nissan Terrano. This new SUV will be based on an all-new platform that Hyundai is developing, which will also be used for the new i20 hatchback.
The senior management has set stiff sales targets for these two products. Cumulative sales targets for the new compact sedan and SUV are expected to be at least 150,000 units a year, according to our sources within Hyundai.
Once these products have been established in the market, Hyundai will then ready its next offensive, which will include the new i20 hatch, and possibly a compact MUV as well, to compete with Maruti’s Ertiga. The MUV is not confirmed for India however, and autojunction.in understands that it is still in an evaluation phase. Computer-generated simulations are on-going, but the company hasn’t constructed a physical mock-up of an MUV as yet.
The new i20 however is considerably well advanced in its development phase, and indeed could be shown to the world as soon as the Geneva Motor Show in March next year.
To sum up, in the next 18 – 24 months, the following products are likely to be launched in the Indian market:
1. New Santa Fe SUV - Early 2014
2. New Grandi10-based compact sedan – April-May 2014
3. New i20-based Compact SUV – July-Aug 2014
4. New i20 hatchback - October 2014
5. New i20-based MUV – To Be Confirmed
If you are a fan of Hyundai’s products, and indeed some of them have proved to be really very good, then it may be worth your while to hang on for a bit in case you’re considering a new car purchase. The company is hard at work developing components and sub-systems which will be homogenous across its product range, like a new infotainment system, with full suite connectivity including Bluetooth pairing, USB in, and built-in hard drive capacity, along with navigation feature. According to Hyundai, these features will be offered as standard in its new product range, making its cars a tempting choice for the always connected youth who form the company’s main customer demographic.
Hyundai of course has to withstand some criticism for being a little late to move into some segments. Maruti truly read the market better, creating and owning segments with products like the Dzire and Ertiga. Hyundai, it would appear to the casual observer, is being more reactive to Maruti’s strategy, rather than pioneering efforts to build the market. Also, let’s not forget that the production version of Maruti’s XA Alpha compact SUV concept is just a few months away.
But such thoughts are furthest from the minds of the people who finally matter – the customer. Indian car buyers recognise value, and indeed today are spoiled for choice. The entire way people buy cars, and the ownership experience that they buy into, is constantly evolving. Hyundai is getting ready to rock Maruti’s boat, a relishing prospect then for the customer, who wants the best he can get.