Korean auto major Hyundai is bringing back its iconic brand after a three-year hiatus. To be called the ‘All New Santro’, its unchanged moniker is the result of a consumer poll that overwhelmingly voted to keep the same name. The car is expected to hit the road on October 23 and is being launched as Hyundai celebrates two decades in the country. Industry sources say that it will be priced at Rs 370,000 to stay competitive with its biggest competitors, Tata Tiago and Maruti Suzuki Celerio.
At an event to announce the impending return of Santro, managing director and CEO of Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL), Y K Koo said that of the 500,000 people polled, close to 67 per cent had asked that the name be unchanged and the company has abided by their wishes. The new Santro that competes in the mid-compact segment is targeted at first-time car buyers. Buyers in the age group of 30-35 will account for nearly 65 per cent of the total sales and the majority will come from rural, tier-II and III cities. "Rural, tier-II and III markets are the key, while metro is additional for us," said Koo.
Santro is placed between Eon and the Grandi10 in the Hyundai compact vehicles family and was a big hit in its past avatar. The relaunch of a blockbuster brand in the automobile sector is a new trend, but Harish Bijoor, CEO of Bijoor Consults believes that the market is likely to see many more comebacks in the coming months. “I believe it is a very good piece of thinking to bring it back and call it Santro again,” he said. He believes that the auto major is hoping to revive the consumer connect that the old product had with its new branding strategy.
In the mid compact segment, counted as one of the fastest growing categories at one time, the old Santro had carved itself a niche. But growth had begun to peter off by the time it was discontinued in 2015. The segment has picked up since, the success of Tiago has pumped fresh energy into sales volumes and Puneet Anand, group head, Marketing at HMIL believes that this is the right time to bring Santro back. For one, the segment is growing and secondly, Hyundai is celebrating 20 years in India, he explained.
The company has not looked for a brand ambassador for the Santro, although Shah Rukh Khan who is the Hyundai corporate brand ambassador, will helm the launch events and early promotions around the car. Interestingly Khan had been signed on as brand ambassador for the Santro in its old avatar. But this time around, the car is the hero in the entire narrative, Anand said.
The Santro is being offered as a value-purchase rather than a budget-buy. “Today's customers are smart they are not looking at price, they are looking value,” said Anand, hinting that the company may keep affordability in mind but would not skimp on all the trappings that one has come to expect even in an entry-level vehicle.
The new launch is expected to increase the company's total market share to 17-17.5 per cent from the current 16 per cent in the Indian passenger car market, Anand added. The company expects to tap into new consumers and also old ones who are drawn to the brand out of a sense of nostalgia.
Koo said that the six key pillars for All New Santro include style, its tall boy design, comfort, premium cabin experience, new age technology and customer-centric safety. The company has set a target of 100,000 Santro cars in the domestic market and 25,000 units for export in its first year. Hyundai expects to wrest around 30 per cent share of the mid-compact segment, which is currently estimated to sell around 30,000 units per month.
The new Santro comes with all the safety features, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and will also be the first Hyundai to be equipped with an automated manual gearbox. The product will be available in CNG version also. Koo ruled out a diesel version because he believes that the demand for such vehicles has not been too encouraging for India.