Hyundai Motor plans a $550 million diesel engine plant in India with locally-sourced components to give customers a wider choice and consolidate its position as India’s largest passenger car exporter.
“We concluded a feasibility study on a new diesel engine plant in India around three months ago. I think, a decision on that will be taken soon at our global headquarters after due consultations with our executives in India,” a senior official said. Hyundai is planning to launch a diesel variant of its popular i10 model to counter rising competition.
When asked for his formal comments on the issue, Hyundai Motor’s managing director for its Indian subsidiary Han Woo Park did not commit any time frame on the new plant, but indicated that a diesel version of i10 was on the radar.
He also said Ford India Figo was a model to watch out for, and not the Micra. Ford Figo is logging good sales numbers in India and more so its diesel version. Hyundai India rolled out 270,000 i10s last year both petrol and diesel put together. The diesel model, though, is only for the export market for the present and is shipped out fitted with engines imported from South Korea.
“We sold 149,000 i10s in India last year, all fitted with petrol engines. It is true there is a need for a new small diesel engine, but it needs to be developed,” said Arvind Saxena, director for sales and marketing at Hyundai’s India operations. The diesel engine in the i10 is for exports and of high specifications. It may not be suitable for Indian market, Saxena said.
Hyundai claims to be India’s largest exporter of cars and second largest passenger car manufacturer after the Indo-Japanese Maruti-Suzuki. Last fiscal, the company’s Indian operations accounted for 600,588 cars, a 20.8 per cent growth over the year before.
The company’s current offerings in India, being produced from two units at Chennai, include the Santro Xing, i10, i20, Accent, Verna and Sonata Transform.