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“Expecting to see more movement in the passenger hatchback car segment”

Verna based, Goa Hyundai , is one of the oldest Hyundai dealerships in India. Established in September 1998, the dealership in fact is the first sales outlet of Hyundai. It started the same year when the Santro car was launched in the country. Here Prashant Joshi, managing director, Goa Hyundai speaks to Serilda Coutinho  on range of issues. He talks of upcoming models, the future of electric cars, Goa’s automobile market, among other issues.

Q: What are the new launches of Hyundai that will help in building the brand portfolio in 2018-19?

One of the upcoming launch in October is the upgraded Santro, while April 2019 expects the arrival of another SUV smaller than the Creta. The existing Grand i10and i20 may also go in for uplift soon. Another major launch for Hyundai will be its first electric vehicle that will give the company the recognition of its capability to venture into the electric segment. We are looking for small volumes for this product because of the expected high import price.


Q: What is the ongoing trend in terms of car purchases in the state?

We are expecting to see more movement in the passenger hatchback car segment specifically for the Grand i10 and i20. In the SUV segment the anticipated action will be in Creta.  About 90 percent of our cars are fitted with the latest features and the prices are competitive as well. From the last few months the monthly offers given to the customers are also very attractive.


Q: Who is the target client base for Goa Hyundai?

These mostly include salaried employees as the best performing are the smaller cars which fit the consumers budget easily. Most of the car buyers do not purchase the car outright with their funds they prefer to shell out 15-20 percent from their salary combined with finance schemes like EMI and loans. We do not have much corporate clients because there are not many companies in Goa. In metro cities companies buy the car and hand it over to their employees but in the state in the absence of such benefit companies usually prefer to compensate for the money spend on the car.


Q: Which is the flagship model for your dealership? 

Our flagship model is the Grand i10 as it has contributed to the maximum sales and has been the best performing in the hatchback segment.


Q: How has your journey been as a dealership since your association with Hyundai brand is from 1998 when the company started operations in India?

I was the first dealer to be appointed in the entire country in September 1998 and will be completing 20 years now. Our journey began with a single product Santro which was a basic car preferred by the middle class. We currently have a portfolio of nine different models and the 10th model will be launched around October 23. The hatchback model codenamed AH2 will be an updated version of Santro.


Q: With the presence of another Hyundai dealership in state do you feel the pressure of competition in terms of sales?

Definitely there is a competition but it is a healthy one because the whole world is become competitive now. Today nobody can survive in a monopolistic market.  The brand has a market share hovering in between 16 percent to 18 percent in the state.


Q: Santro being the maiden entry into the Indian market what was the response it received in Goa?

It was an excellent response because Santro was the first small car to be launched with multi-point fuel injection technology (MPFI) and tall boy design that provides better interior height.


Q: What is your view on electric vehicles?

If electric vehicles are imported the prices will be high and people will not be able to afford it secondly in the absence of infrastructure in the form of charging stations, it will not be possible to use the vehicle for longer ides. At present I feel the Central Government is working in the direction to give a push to automobile manufacturers to start working on electric vehicles but it will take about 10-15 years for the switch to EV to take place. In the initially phase automobile companies will come with EV products in the market to make the customer aware of their production ability and their brand.  Every company will come with their own technology in the future to provide better millage and consumers will invest in vehicles with better millage and pricing over the other brands.


Q: CNG fueled vehicles are the vehicles of the future. How has the brand tried to accommodate this alternative fuel in upcoming models?

CNG as a fuel substitute has the possibility to pick up faster in Goa. GAIL, the largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company in India has already laid down CNG pipelines in the state. Now it is a matter of having more petrol stations and space dedicated to CNG fuel stations. Hyundai already has CNG kits available for its models Accent and Grand i10 so our customers can easily switch to CNG.


Q: What do you feel about the safety norms mandated by the government?

All brands with foreign collaboration already had the technology in place to cater to the mandatory safety requirement for the Indian market. However the challenge is for the local automobile manufacturing companies who lack the technology. The Hyundai plant in Chennai manufactures products for the Indian as well as the export market so it was not difficult to abide with the new safety features as there is no much variation in the material used for both the cars.


Q: How will these safety features help in making the driving experience on Goan roads safer?

It has not reduce the number of accidents but it will definitely reduce the casualty rate because with high quality safety features fitted in the vehicles the driver has less chances of getting injured.


Q: Has the new rule for third party insurance for new cars affected the sales for automobiles in the state?

It will not affect sales because the rule has been implemented for the betterment of the citizens. Previously a damage done to government property was held unaccountable but under the third party insurance the damage cost will be covered. The increase in price is a temporary switch the consumers will experience ultimately  they will be paying the difference in terms of the additional third party issuance component and ensure the car for an extended duration of three years .


Q: At present Maruti has a strong hold in the automobile market in the state. Do you expect any other automobile company in the state to create the same impact in the future or replace Maruti’s number one position?

No it will be difficult to defeat Marui’s number one position because Maruti in terms of production is miles ahead. They were set up before Hyundai or any other company came in India so they have the first movers’ advantage. However with Hyundai now coming up with new variants and products we are hopeful of making a dent in their market in terms of certain models. We are also expecting to capture a share of their market in the near future.


Q: What is your assessment of the Goan automobile market during the festive season especially Chaturthi?

During the festive season there is a jump of almost 20 per cent in the sales compared to the rest of the year.

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