Amid sluggish market conditions, Hyundai?s domestic sales have started looking up, thanks to new launches, including the latest Xcent compact sedan. The company is confident it can extend the April growth momentum till the end of the year, with the Xcent and Grandi10 set to play a major role. It is exploring new geographies for Xcent exports, which it plans to begin soon. Also, Hyundai will ramp up Xcent?s production to lower the waiting period, says Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (marketing & sales), in an interview with R Ravichandran. Excerpts
Hyundai seems to have turned the corner on the domestic front with 9% growth in April.
Of course. We were struggling in the first two months of 2014 owing to the overall slowdown in personal cars. While January recorded degrowth of 2.6%, February saw a marginal decline. However, after the launch of Xcent, things changed on the domestic front with 3.4% growth in March, followed by 9% in April.
Xcent has received an overwhelming response. Within six weeks of launch, we have received more than 16,000 bookings and aproximately 200,000 enquiries. We have delivered 6,700 Xcents in April 2014 and become No. 2 in the 45,000-units-per-month compact sedan segment, after Maruti Dzire. We hope to deliver 10,000 units in May. There is a significant rise in footfall at dealerships across regions, and most dealerships are witnessing record daily bookings. We hope to maintain this momentum.
There is a strong perception that a new car finds buyers for a few months. Is that true of the Xcent?
History shows that Hyundai products have been in great demand. The Grandi10, launched in August/September last year, is one of the top players in the compact hatch segment and had nearly 83,000 customers in last 7-8 months, with average monthly sales of 10,000+ units. Xcent, a compact sedan based on the Grandi10 platform, will do equally well and be our major
The Xcent has a waiting period of 2-3 months depending on variants. Are you ramping up output?
We are continuously working on operational efficiencies to cater to demand and lower the waiting period. We will certainly look at ramping up production capacity and reducing the waiting period sharply.
In fact, compact sedan happens to be the fastest growing segment with monthly sales of 45,000-50,000 units. And it?s been growing at more than 27%.
Do you plan to export the Xcent?
We have been India?s leading exporter for years, with 46% of our total sales coming from exports. It is a great proposition for us to export Xcent as this product suits all of our export markets. We have started identifying markets and hope to begin exports in near future.
Given the challenges, will you be able to extend the momentum till the end of the year?
Last year, we did well with total sales of 633,011 units, increasing our market share to 20.70% from 18.20% in 2012. Given the increased focus on the domestic market, coupled with new launches (Grandi10, Xcent, new SantaFe in the last eight months),we believe we will maintain the momentum. We will also strengthen our portfolio by refreshing all models.
You have been talking about a new utility vehicle for quite some time.
We are currently evaluating the segment. We are evaluating customers’ needs with the help of our R&D team. We will do a feasibility study and, based on the results, we will offer a global product. Maybe we will be in a position to finalise in the later part of the fiscal.