Automakers in India bet on new launches to tide themselves over slowdown

23, Aug. 2019

Hyundai Motor India Ltd. officials pose with newly-launched Grand i10 Nios hatchback in New Delhi on Aug. 20.
Hyundai Motor India Ltd. officials pose with newly-launched Grand i10 Nios hatchback in New Delhi on Aug. 20.

By Atul Ranjan

NEW DELHI, NNA - Passenger vehicle makers in India are betting on new launches to woo buyers in a bid to tide themselves over an unprecedented slowdown in the world’s fourth largest automobile market.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd., a subsidiary of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co., launched its third new model this year – the Grand i10 Nios hatchback – on Tuesday, while Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., a subsidiary of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp., unveiled a new model of XL6 six-seater van on Wednesday, even as several other automakers look to bring in new cars to the market in this month alone.

Hyundai’s two previous launches this year – the Hyundai Venue sport utility vehicle and the Kona Electric – have received a great response from Indian customers. Venue registered bookings of over 55,000 units in the first three months since its launch, said S. S. Kim, managing director and CEO of the local unit.

“Kona Electric, the country’s first fully electric SUV receiving bookings of over 230 in just one month since its launch despite various concerns including the lack of EV infrastructure, is very encouraging,” Vikas Jain, national head sales of the Hyundai arm, told NNA during the launch of Grand i10 Nios in New Delhi.

Commenting on the automakers move to launch new models at a time when the industry is witnessing a slowdown in new vehicle sales, Deepesh Rathore, co-founder of Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors Pvt. Ltd., an automotive research firm, said that with new models witnessing demand despite a slowdown in the industry, several automakers have planned a slew of new launches to stimulate the market.

“They are also looking at the upcoming festival season during the October-November period to drive their sales,” Rathore said.

The other automakers planning to launch their new models in the next few days include Kia Motors India Inc., an Indian subsidiary of the South Korean carmaker Kia Motors Corp., Renault India Pvt. Ltd., the local subsidiary of France’s Renault S.A.S., and BMW India Pvt. Ltd. under Germany’s BMW Group.

The automotive industry is witnessing an “unprecedented” slowdown with sales growth in the passenger vehicle segment continuing to be in the negative zone since November last year, according to data of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

In the first quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year to next March (FY 2020), new car sales (sedans and compact hatchbacks) witnessed the sharpest decline of 10.5 percent year-on-year in the last five years, Care Ratings Ltd., a rating and research firm, said in a report last month.

“Going forward, we expect demand to continue to remain muted during Q2 (July-September), pick up only by Q3 (October-December) and continue in Q4 (January-March 2020), with various planned product launches, festival demand and pre-buying of automobiles before the implementation of the new emission norms BS-VI on April 1, 2020 likely to drive sales,” it said.