Wednesday , 22 May 2019
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Hyundai charged up on Kona electric car

Seon Seob Kim, the new head of operations, Hyundai Motor India, was briefly in the state on a dealership visit to Goa Hyundai. In an informal chat with Serilda Coutinho he talks of the company’s plans

Hyundai Motors India is accelerating entry into the electric vehicle (EV) segment. The company will be introducing its first electric SUV, Kona by this year, said Seon Seob Kim,  managing director and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor India.

Having taken charge of the Indian market from December 1, 2018, Kim is on a pan-India dealership tour. During the Goa Hyundai, Verna, visit he said that, Kona’s mileage will be more then 300km/hr in a single charge. According to Kim, holiday destinations across the globe are making a switch to EV to maintain the quality of air.

“Goa is a tourist centric market and a switch to EV will be a great option for the state to retain the beauty of the place without disrupting the environment,” he said. He added that electrification in the Indian automobile industry will not happen overnight and will take some time to establish. “It depends on the Indian government’s support for the electrification of the vehicles,” he said.

Kim believes that, EVs in future will be much more popular and dominant in the passenger car market than petrol or diesel fuelled cars. “Some of the hurdles faced by automobile companies in the way of launching electric cars is the lack of infrastructure required in the form of charging stations. “ he said, adding that, compared to the internal combustion engine vehicle that runs on fuel the current EV technology runs on batteries and takes a longer charging time. “So we need a very strong infrastructure and new technology to combat this drawback,” he pointed out.

Apart from this hiking up the cost of production is the use of lithium batteries. Kim reveals that in the absence of government support in the form of subsidies car manufacturers in India fear a loss due to fewer takers. “In Korea, Japan and countries that have received support for EV by the state or central government the subsidy offered is almost 50 percent on the price of the car. “Only if this support is received we will be able to narrow the gap in India and speed up production,” he said.

He further added that, there is a possibility that after few years of launching EV’s into the market companies might be capable to stand alone without government support.

Other than the Kona, Hyundai India is also planning to launch QXI, a subcompact SUV in the sub-four meter segment. The model is going to be smaller than the Creta. It will be a fully telematic control SUV where the driver through remote control access can start the car or switch on the AC from a distance, he explained.

Speaking of  Kia Motors one of Hyundai’s subsidiary companies , Kim said that, says “In India and in the international market in terms of marketing and sales both the brands are competition with each other . But since Kia’s target audience here is different from Hyundai as their main focus is on the SUV segment we will not have direct competition.”

Hyundai India recently signed an MOU with Tamil Nadu government for additional investment of Rs 7000 crore in the manufacturing facility.  The investment will increase the plant capacity from seven lakh units per year to eight lakh units per year.

“The MOU reflects our committed to the state. The investment is in the area of power train, to make our car engines more powerful.  For the automobile industry power train manufacturing such as the engine and transmission manufacturing are critically important,” said Kim. We want Hyundai to be the brand of choice for our customers in India by offering higher values beyond customer expectations, he signed off.