I believe that you’re having trouble meeting the demand for the Tucson, have you underestimated the popularity of this model?
Before this launch, we used to sell about 1,000-1,200 Tucsons a year. By our own estimate, we said we’ll do 5,000, but you’re right it appears that even that is too low an estimate, but we already have plans to increase our supplies.
Is your true success that your customers move up the value chain with you – this happened in hatchbacks, then sedans, and now SUVs?
Absolutely, we have always been where the customer is. The Indian customer, clearly, is aspirational and is moving up the value chain, and it’s all about moving up the value chain and spotting those trends. In 2015, only 13% of sales were SUVs and now it’s more than 40% - and in the Hyundai portfolio, it’s now 53%. We were the market leader in SUVs in both 2020 and 2021. And even within a model range, customers are looking for higher models. So, they want connectivity, ventilated seats – they want it all. And because they’re spending more time in their cars, they don’t want to compromise on anything.
What about ADAS? Tucson has ADAS which is India adapted, but our roads are so chaotic that it’s difficult to adapt these global technologies to India?
We’re very proud that not only have we been able to launch this ADAS 2 technology, but that it’s been tested in Indian conditions. The response is fabulous! The success of Hyundai in India isn’t just that we bring global products to India, but that we know the Indian market and Indian customers are different, and we tune the products accordingly. I believe that is one of the key reasons for the success of Hyundai in India.
How important is diesel still in your portfolio?
Diesel is very important. Even today, diesel constitutes over 25% of our total portfolio, and in models like the Tucson and Alcazar it’s more than 70%; Creta 55%; Venue 25%, so diesel is very strong because the SUV customer especially is looking for that initial punch and also because he’s driving long distances so fuel efficiency is important – and Hyundai diesels are very good, both from an environment and a performance perspective. So, we know that diesel will continue to play an important role, but at the same time, we are looking at all powertrains – turbo, CNG, electric – because different states behave very differently. For example, AP, Telangana, Punjab, and to some extent MP, are very strong in diesel, whereas the North East and Delhi are very strong in petrol, Maharashtra is very strong in CNG, Hyderabad and Bangalore are very strong in EV, so we have to cater to everybody and that is the strength of Hyundai – we can cater to every State and every customer.
From an electrification standpoint, what is that path going forward?
We are very clear that sustainability is a key pillar of our Beyond Mobility brand ethos, and, as you know, when we launched the Kona in 2019 it was the first fully electric SUV in the country with a 450-kilometre range. So, we know the market and we’ve already announced the launch of the Ioniq5 in the next couple of months. By 2028, our portfolio of battery-electric vehicles will be six with different body types. So, whereas in ICE we went up the value chain, but for EVs, it’ll be a top-down approach because we’re working on the whole ecosystem – the cost, the charging infrastructure and the supply chain, all those aspects have to be taken care of. And, as far as other technologies are concerned, we have hydrogen, hybrids, and BEV, so it all depends on what the government wants. It appears that, as of now, both from the central government and from the States, the push is more towards battery electric vehicles, and this is the technology that we are adopting in accordance with this push.
The EU has said it will ban the sale of ICE vehicles by 2035, how does that affect a market like India and what does the Indian market look like at that time?
Very difficult to say. The discussion we always have is that if you ask five experts what the EV penetration will be in 2035, you can hear answers ranging from 15% to 70%, so it’s impossible to say. But, because we have access to the technology we are ready and we are watching the market very carefully. But one thing is clear, and that’s the fact that the direction is very right – towards a sustainable future. But we have to be very patient, it’s not as if in one day we will move from ICE to Electric, but the direction is very clear.