In his third term helming Hyundai in India, YK Koo wants the country’s second-biggest carmaker to shed its mass-market image, and go premium.
“This is the last of the changes that you are seeing,” the Hyundai India MD said. “We were a mass market car maker, but we will have to change that image.”
Perhaps not too surprising, considering market leader Maruti Suzuki’s recent thrust on Nexa, its premium dealership channel.
The mass-market space has been dominated by Maruti and Hyundai, which together hold 60% of sales. For many years the two focused on the price range of `2.5-7 lakh. “As much as 90-95% of our volumes were sold in the sub-`10 lakh category,” said Rakesh Srivastava, head of sales and marketing at Hyundai.
With the new SUV Creta, cars priced above `10 lakh now account for over 20% of Hyundai’s sales. “With the (premium SUV) Tucson we will further go up,” Srivastava said. Then there are the new Verna and the new Elantra in the pipeline.
The premium space was hitherto dominated by Honda Cars and Toyota Kirloskar. Though Toyota still commands a premium image, Honda, with its Brio, Amaze, Mobilio and the newly-launched BR-V, has more or less commandeered the popular segment, and two-thirds of its sales come from the sub-`10 lakh category.
Cars are not all — there are training programmes for dealership staff. And some dealerships are getting a facelift as well.
Koo has also opened three digital showrooms to generate leads, where people can see the cars and what they offer on TV screens and iPads. “We will open 30 such centres in the top 10 cities, at shopping malls and metro stations,” he said.
And this is not about metros alone, either. Koo wants to extend the premium experience to rural customers as well — 18% of Hyundai’s sales are rural. “Rural customers have become aspirational, looking for better cars with modern features,” Srivastava said.