Going by the staggering success and popularity they have garnered ever since they came to the Indian shores in 1996, Hyundai is one auto brand that is here to stay.
Already the leading auto brand in South Korea and a fairly successful name globally, they entered the Indian auto market when it was just opening up. There was only Maruti Suzuki and a couple of car models when Hyundai launched its first offering, the Santro, in 1998. It was, as the market demand required, a small car and this hatchback was a refreshing change in those days from the large and unwieldy Ambassadors and Fiats that were holding sway till then. The only real competition was the Maruti 800, the iconic Indian car that had begun to rustle up demand, a good thing for a Hyundai as it proved that a hatchback was what Indian car buyers wanted.
The Santro was a cute car and very drivable. It also had a hitherto unseen approach inside the cabin too. It was suppose to be a low maintenance car and quite fuel efficient too. Priced attractively, this proved to be one of the most popular Hyundai cars ever launched by them in India.
This was followed by their first sedan, the Hyundai Accent. In 1999, this offering too was ahead of the times and what car buyers could expect was a stylish but understated design with a strong engine and good drivability. Also on offer was a cabin that was plush, for those days, and with plenty of features. This too sold well.
By now, Hyundai cars were becoming popular thanks to a good dealer network and a very customer oriented service support. What followed these two models was a spate of new launches like the Sonata (their D segment offering), the Verna (the Accent’s successor), the Getz (a capable, larger hatchback) and repeated improvements and facelifts of the Santro.
Of course, not all launches did well. Their SUVs, the Tucson and the Terrano, did not record good sales. Nor did their C segment sedan, the Elantra. But it was the 2007 launch of the i10 and that of the i20 in 2008 that brought back the smiles for the company and their customers. Both did well, especially the hatchback, the i10. The i20 had to struggle in a difficult and competitive market. But Hyundai kept bringing out reiterations to their models like the Grand i10, the Elite i20 and the Fluidic Verna. Also, another small car like the Eon and a sedan, the Xcent kept things fresh and humming.
It’s clear today that Hyundai cars are a force in India and well poised to be a strong auto brand in the times to come.