Hyundai Motor Company, which is all set to re-launch its iconic small car Santro in India in the next 12-15 month, will eventually phase out its popular small car, the i10.
Work on the new Santro is in full swing in South Korea, and it will come in the beginning of 2018, sources confirmed. Market leader Maruti Suzuki has said it plans to launch several small cars in the coming months. The new Santro is expected to be priced at Rs 4 lakh, and will also compete with the Renault Kwid and Datsun family of mini-cars.
The company, which is eying one million unit sales a year by 2020, expects that the emotional recall of the Santro brand will ensure success of the relaunch. If Maruti launches a new small car and calls it “800”, it will be a runaway success, a source in the know of Hyundai’s launch plans told HT. Incidentally, Maruti sells 2 million cars a year.
There will be a few changes in the new Santro, though. The “tall-boy” structure, which was in-vogue in the early 2000s, doesn’t appeal to the car buyer anymore. “There is only one tall boy, the WagonR, and its numbers have also fallen from the peak… The Santro will be tallish, but will look much younger, sleeker and stylish,” said the source.
Santro played a pivotal role in catapulting Hyundai to the number two position among car-makers in India. It also changed the industry with its design and technology, with the 1998 Santro ushering in multi-point fuel injection, while its main competitor Maruti 800 was still running on carburettors.
The popular response to the Hyundai car eventually forced Maruti to embrace the new technology.
Even when it was phased out 16 years ago, Hyundai was selling 2,500-3,000 units of the Santro every month, so it was a mystery why the company took the step. Sources said there were multiple reasons, such as safety and styling.
One important factor was the Grand i10. Hyundai decided to divert the Santro’s assembly line to the new car. Now, when the Santro returns, the i10 will gradually get phased out. The wheel comes a full circle.