Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) on Tuesday announced the re-birth of its most popular car, the Santro, in a new avatar. Codenamed the ‘AH2’ during the developmental stage, the all-new Santro was developed at a cost of over $100 million over a three-year period and has been pitted against Maruti Suzuki’s Celerio and WagonR, as well Tata Motors’ Tiago, at the entry level compact segment. The car is available for both domestic and export markets. The export of the new Santro will begin in February next year, including to countries in Asia, MEA, South Africa and Latin America. It comes with a localisation level of 90%.
The company has announced pre-booking of the new Santro only through the online route effective Wednesday till October 22, and the first 50,000 customers can book the car at Rs 11,100 as an introductory offer. The new Santro has been positioned between the company’s entry-level car Eon and the Grand i10.
Though managing director and CEO YK Koo refused to talk on the price points, industry sources in Chennai pegged it in a range between Rs 4,00,000 and Rs 5,50,000. “Definitely it is a premium car and will be priced much higher than Maruti’s Celerio,” was the only answer he offered.
To be introduced with a 4-cylinder, 1.1 petrol engine, the new Santro will also be introduced with indigenously-developed AMT and and factory-fitted CNG versions. The AMT version is expected to cost an additional Rs 50,000, Koo pointed out.
Responding to questions after the launch event, Koo said: “We are targeting monthly sales of 8,000 to 10,000 units of the new Santro in the domestic market and are on the export side targeting 30,000 units in entire 2019.” The export of this car will begin in February 2019, he added.
To a specific question, he said: “The mid-compact segment is pegged at 30,000 units a month and post the new Santro launch it expected to touch 40,000 units a month, and is the fastest growing segment among others. We see the demand for the AMT version in major metros/cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru will be around 50% of our monthly sales and overall the AMT version will contribute 25% of our total Santro sales monthly. The company expects a strong support from Tier II and III cities and rural areas, apart from first-time buyers in metros.”
According to him, the company will continue to make the Eon, its entry-level car, as it continues to attract customers and has a monthly sale of anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 units. “We expect our market share to go up 16.7% next year,” he added.
On the export front, Koo said with more and more countries opting for CKD format due to higher duties on CBUs as well as compulsion to make locally, the company will export CKD formats to those countries. Followingthis, they get an additional production capacity of 50,000 units, which is sufficient for 2019. The company plans to sell 5.5 lakh units in the domestic market and 1.6 lakh units in exports during 2018. It is targeting total sales of 7.5 lakh units in 2019, he added.
When asked about the impact of the continued rupee depreciation against the dollar, Koo said the company would wait and watch till December and if the trend continued, prices would be increased. “Right now the input costs are high due to rupee depreciation,” he said.
Earlier at the launch event, Koo said: “We had to name the AH2 as the ‘New Santro’ due to an overwhelming response from the customers. Over 66% of the 500,000-odd responses to our ‘Naamkaran’ campaign were for the Santro name. It is the most popular brand for Hyundai in India. Not only has the company over 1.8 million customers worldwide for the earlier Santro, but it also ruled for more than 16 years and we had to discontinue it in end 2014 due to change in tech advancements as well as from competitiors at the entry level.”
The new Santro comes with lots of premium features including that of standard ABS with EBD and driver’s airbag, and an additional airbag for co-sitter in the front row if required. It has more headroom, modern style, high comfort and uis more spacious than the earlier version, Koo added.