South Korean auto major Hyundai Tuesday said it will bring back its once popular hatchback, Santro, in a new avatar in India later on October. The company, which operates in the country through its wholly-owned subsidiary Hyundai Motor India (HMIL), had discontinued the previous Santro model in December 2014.
Hyundai has invested over USD 100 million on the all-new Santro, which was developed under the code name AH2, over the last three years.
The new car will be powered by a 4-cylinder 1.1 litre petrol engine. It will also be available with automated manual transmission (AMT) and factory-fitted CNG fuel options.
HMIL Managing Director and CEO Y K Koo said the company decided to name the “new family car” as Santro following an overwhelming response from customers in an online poll.
“The AH2 retains the values of the Santro in the form of a ‘modern Tall Boy’ car,” he said here.
The company will open online pre-bookings for the new Santro from October 10-22 with Rs 11,100 as booking amount for the first 50,000 customers.
“We will have the global premiere of the all-new Santro on October 23 in New Delhi,” Koo told reporters here.
When asked about sales expectations from the new Santro, he said, “In the domestic market we are looking at around 8,000 to 10,000 units per month.”
The all-new Santro will compete with the likes of Maruti Suzuki’s WagonR, Celerio and Tata Motors’ Tiago in the mid-compact segment which is about 30,000 units a month.
“With the new Santro we are looking at about 25-30 per cent of that segment,” he said, adding that the company is re-entering the mid-compact segment which it vacated when Santro was discontinued four years ago.
“The target for the new Santro is first time buyers, specially in tier II and III towns and rural areas with metros contributing for additional purchases.”
From exports, which will begin from February next year, Koo said HMIL is looking at 20,000 to 30,000 units annually.
The company will be targeting markets in Latin America, Middle East and South Africa and South East Asia, where the previous Santro was very popular, he added.
Asked about the cost of development of the new Santro, Koo said, “In the last three years we have invested USD 100 million on it.”
The Santro was first rolled out from the company’s plant here in September 1998 and the brand was the mainstay of the company in the Indian car market.
“Since its first launch, Santro became a complete family car for millions of Indians... The all-new Santro will also debut advanced in-house smart auto AMT and other factory-fitted CNG options,” he said.
HMIL expects around 25 to 30 per cent of the new Santro to come from the AMT, Koo said.
Koo further said the new Santro would be manufactured in India for other global markets. It has a localisation level of 90 per cent.
Earlier this year, Hyundai had said it planned to invest over USD 1 billion (around Rs 6,300 crore) in India in the next three years on new products, development of powertrain and setting up of a new office building.
When asked about the impact of continued rupee depreciation against the dollar, Koo said the company would wait and watch till December and if the trend continued then prices of vehicles would be increased.
“Right now the input costs are high due to rupee depreciation,” he said.