Hyundai Motor mulls entry into SUV segment

Chennai, Sep 4 (IANS) Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL) is seriously mulling to enter the compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment that is logging good growth in the Indian market while planning to increase sales in rural areas further, said senior company officials here Wednesday.

Officials also said the rupee depreciation has not impacted the company to a large extent as it also exports good number of cars.

"We plan to launch one or two new models every year. There are other passenger car segments that are growing, like SUV and multi-utility vehicle (MUV). The industry sales volume interests us. We have the capability to come out with a compact SUV. We are studying the options," Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice president and division head - Marketing and Sales Division told reporters here on the sidelines after the launch of new model Grand i10.

According to him, the company is yet to finalise the model that would be showcased at the ensuing Auto Expo.

Srivastava said HMIL was able to increase its market share during January-August this year due to the sales in the rural markets and also due to exchange scheme - old cars for new.

"Now 18 percent of our sales come from rural areas, up from 15 percent logged last year. We hope to increase sales contribution from rural areas to 20 percent. We have 217 sales points in rural areas and by the end of this year the number would go up to 350," Srivastava said.

According to him, HMIL sells over 8,100 Eon models every month and it is going ahead.

Queried about the impact of rupee depreciation on HMIL R.Sethuraman, director finance and corporate affairs, told IANS: "We have not been hit in a major way due to our car exports. That way there is a natural hedge."

He said HMIL would increase its production capacity over the next one or two years by 50,000 units through re-engineering and removal of production bottlenecks. Currently the company's car plants near here have a total capacity of 630,000 units per annum.

Speaking about the company's new product Grand i10, B.S.Seo, managing director and ceo, said: "The car is developed for the Indian market and symbolizes Hyundai's commitment to Indian customers."

He said the car available in diesel and petrol versions would be setting up new benchmarks in the compact high-entry segment.

According to Srivastava, the rear air condition vents, diamond cut alloy wheels, integrated audio with in-built 1GB memory are unique features for the segment in which the car would be playing.

He said Grand i10 will be the 10th brand in the company's product portfolio and will not eat into the markets of other models like i10 and i20 as their positioning are quite distinct.

According to him, while i10 will be phased out globally by the Korean car maker Hyundai Motors, the model will continue to be present in the Indian market as it logs good sales numbers.

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