If the writing on the wall wasn’t clear earlier, Hyundai Motor India is drawing circles around it for the world to see — the South Korean auto giant wants pole position in the Indian SUV segment.
The target isn’t far-fetched at all. In what is perhaps the most challenging time for the Indian automobile industry, Hyundai’s SUV twins — Hyundai Creta and Hyundai Venue, which were launched earlier this year — have outperformed their peers. In fact, the Venue trumped its older twin in sales numbers by a few hundred units, last month.
In June, Venue clocked 8,763 units sold while Creta stood at 8,334. Continuing to hold leadership position but by the slimmest of margins when compared to the Venue, was Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza, which sold 8,871 cars.
The increased demand for Hyundai’s SUVs has prompted the company’s recently appointed Managing Director for India, Seon Sob Kim, to announce that Hyundai Motor India will boost production of its SUV line, at the company’s Chennai plant.
“We have plans to increase production volumes for the SUV segment,” Kim said in Chennai. “If the customer wants a certain type of model, it is our responsibility to increase volumes in that segment. Preference for SUVs is a global trend — not only in India but also among European, American and East Asian customers."
While the buoyant sales numbers of Creta and Venue are good enough reason for Hyundai to spike its SUV production, increased bookings for the Venue in particular, is another. At present, the car has notched up 45,000 bookings barely a couple of months since launch. “Our hands are full and that means our production can only go up,” said Ganesh Mani, Senior Vice President (Production), Hyundai Motor India.
What will, however, weigh on Hyundai’s mind is competition in the segment. Mahindra’s XUV 300 is threatening to play catch up, having clocked 4,769 units in sales for June, and the launch of the Kia Seltos next month could only add to the competition. However, the numbers, for the moment are in Hyundai’s favour.
From selling 8,000 to 9,000 SUVs per month a little over a year ago, the South Korean automaker has begun clocking an average of 16,500 to 17,000 SUVs per month in India. The company’s market share in the SUV space has also expanded, at an annual growth of 26 percent.