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Santro Is Back
Small, indeed, is beautiful. And Hyundai is set to prove that again with its all-new Santro
Photo Credit : Himanshu Kumar
HMIL TOP BRASS: (L-R) Vikas Jain, National Sales Head, Y.K. Koo, MD & CEO; S.J. Ha, Executive Director, HMIL; P. Sankaramoorthy, VP & Head of Service
In 2017, the indian passenger car market saw an overall sales of over 3.2 million units of which over 2.4 million units were cars less than four meters in length — known popularly as small cars. The Indian arm of Korean carmaker Hyundai — Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) — had discontinued the popular Santro in December 2014. There were several reasons for it. It wanted to promote the likes of the Eon and Grandi10, i20 and others in its portfolio including the hugely successful Hyundai Creta launched in July 2015. Fast forward to 2018. Having opened bookings for the all-new Santro in early October, the company went to record its “highest-ever monthly domestic sales” of 52,001 units for the month. Santro’s launch is expected to increase HMIL’s total market share to 17-17.5 per cent from the current 16 per cent in the Indian passenger car market. The new Santro has come with an introductory price of Rs 3.90 to 5.61 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).
Y.K. Koo, MD & CEO of HMIL says he expects the new car to generate maximum demand from the rural and tier 2-3 markets in India. “Sales from metro cities will be additional. We expect the buyers in the early-to-mid-30s to go for the All New Santro with over 65 per cent sales coming from the hinterland.” For brand expert Harish Bijoor, bringing back the Santro is a “very good idea”. “More than that, calling it Santro again is brilliant,” says Bijoor. It should be recalled that in August HMIL had started a campaign that invited people to suggest a name for what was then called AH2, a hatchback that it had announced it would launch later in the year.
While industry speculation was rife that it would be the return of Santro, the company remained evasive. However, at a September event, Koo explained why the name Santro was retained. “Of the 5 lakh people polled, nearly 67 per cent asked that the name be unchanged,” Koo said. Therefore, HMIL decided to retain the name Santro and called it the ‘All New Santro’, which is placed between Eon and Grandi10, in the mid-compact segment.
“This is the right time to bring Santro back. For one, the segment is growing and secondly, Hyundai is celebrating 20 years in India. Today’s customers are smart; they are not just looking at the price, they are also looking for value,” says Puneet Anand, Group Head, Marketing at HMIL.
According to Koo, the six key pillars for All New Santro include style, its tall boy design, comfort, premium cabin experience, new age technology and customer-centric safety. The company has set a target of 1 lakh Santro cars in the domestic market and 25,000 units for export in its first year. Hyundai expects to corner nearly one-third share of the mid-compact segment currently estimated to sell around 30,000 units per month. Koo says the new Santro is a true example of Hyundai’s Made-in-India philosophy and a shining result of numerous product clinics and rigorous durability test across terrains in India.
It comes with a well-designed dashboard along with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the range-topping variant. Alongside the USB, Aux and Bluetooth, the touchscreen system also supports connectivity features such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mirror Link. A first-in-segment feature of the car is rear AC vents, which are not available even in some cars above this segment as of now. The new Santro comes packed with loads of safety features and an automated manual gearbox, a first for Hyundai. Moreover, it will be available in CNG version, too. “There won’t be a diesel variant,” says Koo. “The demand for diesel versions in the mid-compact segment is not too encouraging for India,” he adds.
“The All New Santro clocked wholesale of over 8,500 units along with strong performance of the Creta, Elite i20 and Grand i100,” says Vikas Jain, National Sales Head, HMIL. The Santro received over 28,800 bookings and more than 129,500 enquiries within 22 days, creating a record of sorts, he adds. The new Santro, which is powered by a four-cylinder 1.1 litre petrol engine, comes with automated manual transmission and compressed natural gas fuel options. The engine has been tuned to comply with the current emission norms, offering better fuel efficiency. Developed on a new K1 platform, the new Santro is bigger, wider and more spacious than the previous version.
The company has not looked for a brand ambassador for the Santro, although Shah Rukh Khan who is the Hyundai corporate brand ambassador, will helm the launch events and early promotions around the car.
Khan had been signed on as brand ambassador for the Santro in its old avatar. But this time around, the car is the hero in the entire narrative, Anand said.