High waiting periods, on the other hand, seems to be a happy headache for the Koreans. With initiatives upfront like the democratization of turbo engines and the introduction of iMT (clutch-less manual), TOI Auto got into a conversation with Tarun Garg, Director of Sales and Marketing, Hyundai Motor India to understand how exactly the automaker dodged the Covid crisis. Along those lines, Garg also shed light on the future of electrification in Hyundai, the strategy for 2021 and upcoming launches.
Ending 2020 on a high note
Hyundai Motor India’s performance in 2020 alone became the key take away from the conversation. Just before the lockdown in India, the automaker had already rolled out the Hyundai Aura and Creta. Even after the pandemic hit the nation with full force, Hyundai became one of the first automakers to resume production after a brief shutdown. During the lockdown the period, the automaker rolled out the Hyundai Venue iMT, Venue Sport and the Tucson to expand its line-up and bank on the high SUV demand. In late 2020, the 3rd-gen Hyundai i20 made its way to the market to cater to the demand in the highly competitive hot hatch segment.
By the end of CY2020, Hyundai emerged as the top SUV maker selling a little over 180,000 units capturing around 25% of the SUV market. While Creta became the best-selling SUV in 2020, Venue also contributed a good share to the overall sales.
“Hyundai banked on the current SUV trend as the segment held a market share of 29% and became the number one SUV maker in the country. Creta also became the bestselling SUV in the country again,” said Garg.
Keeping up with the evolving customers’ demand
During the conversation, Garg emphasized on the fact that customers need to be pampered with new features, new tech and versatile engine and transmissions. According to the data presented, Hyundai Creta holds an upper hand in the market due to the number of engines offered (turbo-petrol, petrol and diesel), transmissions (IVT, AMT, MT and DCT). The creature comforts offered are all a bonus. For the Hyundai i20, around 30% of the bookings are for variants with a sunroof. Connected car tech, air purifier, wireless charger and ventilated seats have also resulted in increased demand.
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The way Hyundai managed to offer most of the trendy features and add-ons at quite on aggressive price tag worked out pretty well for them and it reflected in the CY2020 sales figures especially in H2 and the decent increase in market share. Hyundai currently has a market share of 17.4% against 17.3% in 2019 and 16.3% in 2018.
“Our decision to offer the customers with so many engines, latest tech, and new features combined with other factors made Hyundai gain market share. Customers are much more evolved now and they’re looking at new tech and they want all this at a very reasonable price. Features like air purifier, wireless charger, connected features, ventilated seats are being appreciated now,” added Garg.
Turbo-engine democratization and the iMT demand
Hyundai has banked on the demand for the turbo engines as now customers look for performance-oriented offerings that offer a good fuel-efficiency at the same. According to the data presented, Hyundai did observe a huge adoption rate for turbo variants in 2020 and introduction of a turbo variant in the entry-level segment (Hyundai Grand i10 Nios), compact sedan segment (Hyundai Aura), hot hatch segment (Hyundai i20) and the SUV segment (Hyundai Venue and Creta) did boost the Korean automaker’s sales in the market up to some extent.
“We introduced our first turbo variant when we entered the sub-4m SUV market with the Venue. And now more than 30% of our customers opt for a turbo variant and the adoption rate is very encouraging too. Now we have a turbo variant across all the segments.”
The iMT gearbox is still a rarity in the market and is currently being offered in just three cars in India out of which two belong to Hyundai- Venue and i20. The Hyundai Venue was the first car in India to offer the iMT and the clutch-less transmission is a hit.
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“Customers don’t purchase an auto variant because of the pricing, fuel efficiency and some choose to stick to the manual transmission because of the feel. The iMT was introduced to bring the two-pedal tech to India to make the driving experience much more convenient and it only costs an extra Rs 22,000 compared to the MT variant. The iMT also helped Hyundai boost the sales of the Venue,” added Garg.
2021 outlook: Upcoming models and electrification
Hyundai currently has the Kona EV in its electric portfolio and the automaker is already working on boosting its EV offerings. While Garg was quite tight-lipped about the future projects, he did confirm that the Indian market would be seeing the first mass-market EV from Hyundai in the next 3 years. Until then the drive towards cleaner mobility and achieving technology leadership remain to be the key agenda for the automaker.
When asked about the 7-seater version of the Hyundai Creta, Garg said that Creta is a strong brand with 5 lakh units already sold, and the automaker considers opportunities in all segments.
“Creta is a strong brand and it has done very well in the market. I will refrain from giving any guidance on the future products but we as Hyundai have always looked for opportunities in almost all segments and we are always to open to expanding. We have done it before with Creta in the C-SUV segment, Santro in the tall-boy segment, Getz in the hot hatch segment and we’ll continue to look for opportunities in new segments,” said Garg diplomatically.
Any challenges yet?
Hyundai cars, precisely after the festive season, have been coming with an enormous waiting period. But according to the automaker, all’s well in that domain. Hyundai won’t be going ahead with an increase in production and it already has a reliable network but Garg did add that the Korean automaker is making changes in its production and supply chain to cut down the current waiting periods.
When asked about the semi-conductor shortage that has slowed the global auto industry down, Hyundai Motor India seems to have barely been touched by the crisis. Again, Garg positively said that their supply chain is quite comprehensive and all’s well at the automaker’s camp.
“Our supply chain has been very proactive and so far, the situation has been good and the demand is being met seamlessly.”