It’s curtains for India’s first car with the tall boy design Hyundai Santro after an over 16 year unfettered run in the domestic market, which saw it become the first non-Maruti car to sell over a million units.
The car that launched Korean firm Hyundai in India in mid 1998 has been discontinued to free up capacity at its twin factories in the outskirts of Chennai. Even though Santro continues to be in demand in some pockets of India as its near 30,000 unit sales in 2014 testify, it did not confirm to the company’s overall design philosophy and was out of sync with more contemporary cars in its portfolio like the Grand i10 and Elite i20.
“When we launched the car we believed it will have a big impact in India since it was launched with the widest network among all other new cars that were being introduced then,” said BVR Subbu, former president, Hyundai Motor India Ltd.
Though the global model Atoz was phased out in the home market in South Korea in 2003, Santro continued to be in great demand in India and was also exported in large numbers from here to developed markets including Europe. In its entire life span, around 1.86 million units of the car were made in India.
Its sales peaked in 2006 when 140,679 units were sold in the domestic market and another 99,765 units were exported. The launch of the i10 the following year, however, saw a change guard with the new car quickly taking over the mantle from Santro as Hyundai’s flagship car in the following years.