Hyundai’s 25 years in India: From Santro and SRK to leading SUV maker

It’s been 25 years since Hyundai arrived on Indian shores. The brand achieved countless milestones with its products like the Santro, Creta, i20 and other and pioneered many segments and technologies. We take a glance through the brand’s history in India.

By:February 17, 2021 1:29 PM

Hyundai India is celebrating 25 years in India in 2021. The brand made its official arrival back in 1996 before commercial operations began in 1998 with the Hyundai Santro. During the course of its tenure in India, the Korean brand has achieved many milestones. The automaker is celebrating its silver Jubilee in India so we wanted to trace back its history to highlight some of the key milestones which started from its collaboration with brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan with the Hyundai Santro, to it now being the leading SUV maker in India.

Hyundai’s India operations started on May 6, 1996, when the foundations of the manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu were laid by Hyundai officials. The plant was the brand’s first integrated car manufacturing plant outside Korea.

Two years later the Hyundai Santro was introduced in the Indian market to become the first MPFI engine powered mass-market car in India. The campaign for Hyundai was intelligently thought through as they roped in India’s most popular Bollywood actor, Shahrukh Khan as the brand ambassador. Hyundai had made its mark and announced its arrival in India with a bang!

Over the course of two and a half decades, Hyundai pioneered the Premium Hatchback segment with the introduction often i20 hatchback. Then to jump on the growing SUV trend quickly, Hyundai rolled out the Hyundai Creta in 2015 again creating a new compact SUV segment. The i20 and Creta, both have found many homes in India as well as allowing Hyundai to grow as a car maker in India. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Venue, Verna and the Grand i10, now with the added Nios suffix, has also been very popular in the Indian market as well.

Hyundai Venue (Top), Creta (Bottom)

Hyundai has invested over $ 4 Billion in the Indian market and has clocked over 9 million total vehicle sales since its arrival. It has a total sales network fo 1,154 dealerships and 1,298 after-sales workshops across the country.

2021 Hyundai i20

As of the calendar year 2020, Hyundai’s two most popular SUVs, the Creta and the Venue have allowed it to become the leading SUV maker in the Indian market. The brand has sold over 1,80,000 SUVs in 2020 alone. An achievement which was possible due to the popularity of the second-generation Hyundai Creta which was launched in March 2020, and the Hyundai Venue, the first connected SUV in India back in 2019.

Hyundai is also the leader in exports from India having shipped over 30,00,000 vehicles overseas from its plant in Tamil Nadu. Hyundai India exports to 88 different countries around the world.

Hyundai Kona EV

Other innovations from Hyundai include the clutchless iMT (intelligent manual transmission) which we see offered in the Venue and new i20. Hyundai also was the first brand to introduce an electric SUV in India with the launch of the Hyundai Kona Electric in 2019.

Additionally, the brand has also worked heavily at ground zero. Spread across 540 acres of land, the plant is capable of producing 7.5 lakh units annually. However, in order to be sustainable, the facility has a water recirculation system, and the vehicles are manufactured with the help of 650 4th Generation robots on the production line. Hyundai aims to upgrade this facility further. The automaker says that it will achieve 85% of its energy utilisation from renewable sources by 2021. It is the same plant that witnessed its highest output of 71,000 vehicles in a single month in December 2020.

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