The Seoul-headquartered car manufacturer is investing heavily on electric vehicles (EVs), touted to be the future, and has pledged an investment of Rs 7,000 crore in Chennai, India’s Detroit, for expansion of its production capability and bringing out its first EV from the massive Irungattukottai plant near Sriperumbudur, 50 km from here.
Hyundai, which debuted in India in 1998 with its hatchback Santro, currently boasts of 16.8% share in the passenger car segment and has so far invested USD 3.3 billion (Rs 23,900 crore) in Chennai – the only automobile company to have invested such a huge amount at one single location in the country.
The company, which began its production with 60,000 vehicles per year has increased its production capability manifold now standing at 7.5 lakh at nearly full capacity. Hyundai is the first Indian auto manufacturer to have achieved the milestone of rolling out eight million cars in just under 20 years and targets production of 10 million units by the first half of 2021
Though the company plans to launch a compact SUV codenamed QXi this year, the focus will be on its first full EV, KONA, which was first showcased at the Auto Expo 2018 in New Delhi and again at the second edition of the Global Investors’ Meet organised by the Tamil Nadu Government in Chennai in January this year.
“We plan to bring our electric SUV from our Chennai plant as CKD units, however, we will be able to share more details closer to the time of launch,” Puneet Anand, Senior General Manager & Group Head (Marketing), Hyundai Motor India Limited, told DH in an interview.
CKD (Completely Knocked Down) means that certain parts of the vehicle are shipped to India where they will be assembled to form the complete vehicle.
About the electric vehicle market in South Korea, Anand said Hyundai’s electric cars, IONIQ Electric, and KONA Electric, have received an enthusiastic response with more than 27,000 units being sold since their launch in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
He said the Rs 7,000 crore investment, pledged in January, will be spread over a period of seven years and will be used to scale up production capacity, introduction of new models including EVs and powertrain improvements. Though KONA is in the SUV segment, the company plans to release more models of EVs in the coming years. “Hyundai has the technology to deliver every type of electric vehicle including hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), electric vehicles (EV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) as per the market requirement,” Anand said.
On EVs, the top executive of Hyundai said the company is aligned and committed to embark on the journey of India’s future mobility and will demonstrate its global eco-friendly technologies with the launch of India’s first - a fully electric SUV.
Talking about KONA, Anand said the vehicle is a true expression of the company’s technological advancements in the field of eco and clean mobility and showcases strengths of its SUV model combined with the innovative technology of an electric powertrain. KONA is expected to run 350 kilometres per charge, and this is the first EV in the SUV segment, though a few other manufacturers in India have released such vehicles in other categories.
With regard to Hyundai’s plans for EVs worldwide, he said the company is constantly developing eco-friendly technologies and aims to create mobility solutions to reduce carbon emissions and strengthen “our position as a global leader in clean and innovative mobility solutions for a sustainable future.”
Though the Government plans to increase the number of EVs to 30% by 2030, it is yet to come out with the full-fledged policy for Electric Vehicles in the country. However, it lowered customs duty on import of parts and components of EVs to 10 to 15% from the current 15 to 30% to promote domestic assembling of such vehicles.
When asked how Hyundai India plans to address issues like charging stations in the absence of a policy for EVs so far, Anand said the company’s strategy for the electric vehicle is in line with Government of India’s vision of making India an electric vehicle market.
“We seek direction and strong support from the government on the policy front to create a sustainable infrastructure for electric vehicles in India,” he said, adding that the price of the new EV would be decided soon as the company is studying the Indian market closely.
States join EV revolution
A few states like Andhra Pradesh have announced new electric mobility policy and aims to attract an investment of Rs 30,000 crore as part of its plans to convert its capital Amaravati into an EV-only city. Karnataka government also launched an electric vehicle and electric storage policy two years ago with an aim to attract Rs 31,000 crore investment and create job opportunities for around 55,000 persons.
However, lack of EV policy for the entire country has made it tough for manufacturers to line-up the products although many have huge plans for the Indian market, which is one of the fastest growing in the automobile sector.
Charging stations is one of the major issues that need to be addressed and the government’s policy will throw much light on how these stations will come up and ways to regulate them.
To a question on whether the company was ready to adapt to BS VI regulations according to a Supreme Court judgement, he said Hyundai India has the technology and is ready to adapt to BS-VI across its entire model line-up as per the government guidelines.
When Hyundai launched in India, the company was exporting 60% of the vehicles manufactured here and using the remaining 40% for domestic consumption. As the Indian market grew by leaps and bounds in the past decade, 60-70% of the total production is being used to meet the needs of the domestic market, while the remaining 30% is being exported.
On Hyundai’s presence in India for the past two decades, Anand said their products have redefined the auto industry and are a true expression of Hyundai’s innovation, global technology with a futuristic approach towards clean and connected mobility solutions.
“Operating in a highly competitive and dynamic market in India for over two decades, Hyundai had set the tone for innovation and benchmark products in the India market right from the launch of SANTRO in 1998. In 2018, Hyundai registered the record cumulative sales by achieving its CY 2018 Business Plan with highest-ever domestic sales of 550,002 units and cumulative sales of 710,012 units,” Anand said.