Hyundai trails in EV space as Kona prices higher than competitors

Hyundai sold 292 units of Kona EV in CY19, 223 units in CY20 and merely 121 units in CY21. During the first seven months of CY22, 398 units of the electric vehicle have been sold.

Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai Kona EV was launched in India in July 2019

Despite being one of the early movers in the country’s passenger electric vehicle (EV) market, which is still in a relatively nascent stage, Hyundai Motor India has not been able to notch up volumes with its Kona EV. This is mainly due to its price being higher than similar products by competitors.

Hyundai launched Kona EV in India in July 2019. According to data from automotive analytics and consulting firm JATO Dynamics, the automaker sold 292 units of the vehicle in CY19, 223 units in CY20 and merely 121 units in CY21. During the first seven months of CY22, 398 units of Kona EV have been sold.

In comparison, MG ZS EV, which entered the market in January 2020, has garnered better volumes at 1,142 units in CY20, 2,798 units in CY21 and 1,609 units in January-July CY22. Introduced in the same month as MG ZS EV, Tata Nexon EV is the current leader in the passenger EV market with a share of 88%. Tata Motors sold 2,522 units of Nexon EV in CY20, with the volumes rising to 9,480 units in CY21 and even further at 15,772 units in just the first seven months of CY22.

Hyundai’s Kona, which comes in completely knocked down (CKD) form from South Korea, is the most expensive among the three models. At Rs 24.01 lakh, the average retail price of the vehicle is slightly higher than that of MG ZS EV (it also comes in CKD), which costs Rs 22.99 lakh, and much higher than Tata Nexon’s average retail price of Rs 16.61 lakh.

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While Hyundai tested the Indian market with Kona EV, it is much more bullish about the future, having already announced that it will introduce six new electric models across body shapes, from crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) to sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and cater to multiple segments, including mass market and mass premium market, in the country by CY28. The first among them would be Ioniq 5 which will be launched later this year.

Last year, the carmaker announced it will invest Rs 4,000 crore in EV R&D, including introducing a dedicated EV platform, called the electric global modular platform (E-GMP), for manufacturing/assembling EVs in India. “We are adopting a top-down approach. With Ioniq 5 and Kona EV, we are targeting the top-niche of the market and then we will move down and introduce EVs in other segments,” Tarun Garg, director – sales, marketing, and service, Hyundai Motor India, recently told FE.

Garg said there could be two types of approaches to electrification in India. “One is that you not only have to work on the product but also on the charging ecosystem. We have tie-ups with Tata Power and Indian Oil Corporation to provide the fast charging facility,” he added.

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MG Motor India president and MD Rajeev Chaba said the demand for ZS EV has been encouraging with the vehicle receiving a strong customer response with over 1,000 bookings month-on-month.

The company will launch a more affordable EV in the range of Rs 12 lakh to Rs 16 lakh next year. “We expect to achieve 25% of the total sales from ZS EV and the upcoming EV from CY23,” Chaba said.

JATO Dynamics India president Ravi Bhatia said Hyundai decided to explore the EV strategy with a comparatively small-sized SUV and given that it was a CKD, the duties were high. “They imported a limited number of kits to test the market. The model was subsequently phased out globally and that impacted local availability,” he added.

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