Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors

Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
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  • Hyundai holds the second-largest share of the pie in India after Maruti Suzuki.
  • The market which was then dominated by popular automobile manufacturers — Maruti, Hindustan Motors, Premier Automobiles — was a tough one to crack for a company which was unknown to almost every Indian.
  • However, to give a tough competition, the carmaker came up with a different strategy. It introduced cars with extra comfort and more features.
  • In 1998, Hyundai made their first move with the Hyundai Santro. This car instantly won hearts with its unique tall boy design and spacious interiors.
  • Check out the latest news and updates on Business Insider.
It has been a runaway success, from debuting its first model Santro to selling more than 9 million cars in India, for the South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Company, in India.

The market which was dominated by the top three major automobile manufacturers in early 90s — Maruti, Hindustan, Premier — was a tough one to penetrate for a company which was unknown to every Indian. The journey began in 1996, and Hyundai launched its first car Hyundai Santro in 1998. The Korean giant gained immense popularity in Indian market, making it the second-largest automobile manufacturer in India, within a few months of its inception.
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Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
Bollywood star and Hyundai brand ambassador Sharukh KhanBCCL

And, since then the company has maintained the second-largest share of the pie in India after Maruti Suzuki. Hyundai holds a 17% market share as of January 2021, in India, as per Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations of India. It is also the largest car exporter in the country. Hyundai through Indian subsidiary exports to more than 88 countries across Africa, Middle-East, Latin America, Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
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Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors

What worked for Hyundai in India

Hyundai knew it couldn’t beat Maruti in terms of price, so it adopted a different strategy. The company came in with a car with extra comfort and more features. The strategy still holds strong 20 years later and Hyundai is a household name today.

Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
Hyundai Motor India managing director, S.S. Yang and the president of Hyundai Motor India Limited, B.V.R. Subbu pose with the newly launched Sonata Embera motor-car in New Delhi, 17 August 2005.BCCL

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From Multi Point Fuel Injection (MFPI) based Santro replacing Maruti’s 800 model in the early days to launching SUVs and EVs such as Creta and Kona — the company has revolutionised the Indian auto sector. Hyundai has invested over $4 billion in India, so far.

While Maruti’s monopoly with stranglehold in the car market has been here for several decades now, Hyundai quest to be the most trusted brand in India with a major fan following. From entry-level cars to SUVs, the company’s strong grip on the Indian passenger vehicle market prevails.

Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
Arvind Saxena,Vice President,Marketing & Sales, Hyundai Motor India Ltd with Wang Sik Min,Executive Director, Marketing Sales at the launch of Hyundai new Getz Prime in Bangalore in 2007.BCCL

Here’s a timeline of events that changed Hyundai’s destiny in India.
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  • In 1996 the company laid its foundation stone at Irungattukottai in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
  • In 1998, Hyundai made their first move with the Hyundai Santro, also known as the Atoz in international markets. This car instantly won hearts with its unique tall boy design and spacious interiors.
Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
Arvind Saxena, VP, marketing and sales, Hyundai motor India Heung Soo Lheem, CMD Hyundai Motor India at the launch of Hyundai's new Verna CRDi SX in Hyderabad.BCCL

  • After Santro, the company launched its sedan Hyundai Accent in 1999. Despite the sedan market being at a nascent stage in India, it was only a matter of time that the car gained immense popularity among the younger generation.
Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
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  • The company then tapped the premium sedan segment with its Hyundai Sonata. The car did manage to get a lot of eyeballs due to its similar resemblance to Jaguar models. Adding to it, Sonata Gold was one of the most luxurious cars on sale in India at the time of its launch.
Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
HS Lheem,(Left) Managing Director of Hyundai Motor India along with Arvind Saxena , Vice President (Sales and Marketing) launched Hyundai i 10 small segment car in Bangalore on Thursday, 01 November 2007.BCCL

  • However, things changed for Hyundai dramatically with the introduction of its new family design philosophy, which it named the Fluidic Design Philosophy. Hyundai’s design identity is based on the brand’s philosophy to embrace harmony with nature. Over the years, Hyundai has tweaked this philosophy to keep design universally appealing and progressive.
  • The company achieved five-lakh exports in 2008 and over the next 12 years, 25 million more units were shipped abroad from its plant that has a capacity of producing 7.5-lakh units annually.
Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
Hyundai Motor India Limited Managing Director H.S. Lheem poses with the Hyundai's newly launched premium compact car i20 in New Delhi on Dec.29, 2008. BCCL

  • The i20 was the best-selling car in its segment for many years until the Maruti’s Baleno came into the picture.
  • The company also holds many firsts in the Indian market, such as the Kona Electric being the first zero-emission SUV.
Hyundai nears 25 years of success in India — here’s how this carmaker crossed the 9 million-mark, beating peers like Mahindra and Tata Motors
Hyundai Motor car manufacturing plant in Irungattukottai near Chennai BCCL

  • In December 2020, Hyundai recorded its highest production output in a single month of 71,000 units, the company said.
  • Over the past few years, the company has been strengthening its portfolio with the addition of new hatchbacks and SUVs such as Grand i10 Nios, Creta, i20, that is helping in posting strong sales volumes.
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