New Delhi, Aug 26: After the stunning success with its car models, Hyundai Motors India Ltd (HMIL) is planning to foray into trucks.
The plan is still at a conceptual stage. A pre-feasibility study is now being carried out to assess the possibility of turning it into another profit-making operation.
“We are looking at the possibility of entering the commercial vehicle segment, especially small trucks. The market research is going on and is likely to be ready in a few months,” said Dong-Jin Kim, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Corporation, HMIL’s parent company.
The commercial vehicle segment has been one of the fastest growing in the Indian auto industry with sales in April-July surging by 36 per cent to 52,339 units. Within this, the light commercial vehicles segment—the option that Hyundai is now mulling—has done even better notching up 47.69 per cent growth in April-July with sales of 21,814 units.
Hyundai officials were cagey about talking about the truck project which will pit it against Telco, Bajaj Tempo, Hindustan Motors, and Mahindra and Mahindra.
It is not known whether the truck model will be sourced from a 50:50 venture that Daimler Chrysler and Hyundai Motors plan to create. Daimler Chrysler owns a 10.5 per cent stake in the Korean carmaker.
Last year, Hyundai Motor set up a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler in Korea to produce engines for commercial vehicles.
Kim said HMIL will increase its production capacity from 1,20,000 units to 1,50,000 units by the first quarter of the financial year 2003. “Our main reason behind the expansion is to export one-third of our total production to the European market,” he added.
Hyundai is getting ready to launch a slew of new products that include the Terracan, a sports utility vehicle, a new version of the redoubtable Santro and Caren, a multi-utility vehicle.
The Teraccan is expected to hit the market next year and is likely to be priced around Rs 20 lakh. An extensive market research is now on to assess the sales potential of Terracan.
Kim said, “The company will focus on increasing the production of mid-sized cars and compact cars aggressively.”
Hyundai is all set to launch its new ‘safety-gripped’ Santro in the next one-and-a-half years. B.V.R Subbu, president of HMIL said, “The safety measures incorporated in the new Santro will basically meet the 2005 European safety norms. This model is being specifically developed to cater to the European market.”
“The new car will probably be priced about 10 per cent higher than the current Santro price of Rs3.5 lakh,” Subbu said.
Caren, the multi utility vehicle (MUV), will hit the road soon. The car is expected to be priced in the Rs 10-lakh range. Subbu said the targeted sales for Viva (a car built on the Accent platform) is 400 to 500 cars a month. “Viva is aiming to capture the younger consumers who not only look for refined elegance but also stress on attitude and new style. The response for Viva is very good in the market.”
Asked if Hyundai was planning any price cuts, Kim stressed “We have no plans to slash the prices for any of our cars. We are sure that our customers will be ready to pay the price to enjoy the high comfort and safety levels. We will continue to perform even better in the Indian automotive industry”.
Kim said, “The Indian market is one of our most important overseas market. We plan to infuse $ 80 million by the year-end. In all, we plan to invest $ 300 million by 2003.”