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India’s top selling SUVs include Hyundai’s Creta.  (Pradeep Gaur)
India’s top selling SUVs include Hyundai’s Creta. (Pradeep Gaur)

Hyundai Motor’s SUV market share zooms in April-September

  • This is the first time Hyundai Motor Group has opened a gap as wide as this with its Japanese competitor in any of the mass-market segments in India, over the past two decades
  • Hyundai brought Kia to India in August last year as part of its strategy to sell vehicles through two brands

Hyundai Motor Group’s big bet on sport utility vehicles with its two flagship brands has paid off. The company’s market share in the segment has raced past that of car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd in the six months ended 30 September.

Hyundai and Kia, which have a shared ownership structure, together clocked an SUV market share of 36.2% in the April-September period against just 23.31% a year ago, while Maruti Suzuki’s share slipped to 22.9%, from 25.6% a year ago, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) data.

This is the first time Hyundai Motor Group has opened a gap as wide as this with its Japanese competitor in any of the mass-market segments in India, over the past two decades.

India’s top-selling SUVs are Hyundai’s Creta and Venue, Kia’s Seltos and Maruti’s Vitara Brezza. Other popular SUVs include Tucson (Hyundai), Ertiga and S-cross (Maruti)

Hyundai brought Kia to India in August last year as part of its strategy to sell vehicles through two brands. If the current trend continues, the South Korean conglomerate will be the first company to successfully engineer such a strategy in India. In the past, manufacturers such as Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., and the Volkswagen Group tried a similar strategy without much success.

The South Korean conglomerate’s strategy can be considered close to cross-badging as vehicles under both brands share the same platform and components.

Hyundai Motor Group, though, has been following the similar playbook successfully in markets like North America, West Asian and East Asian markets over the last decade, becoming the fifth-largest vehicle manufacturer globally. “Hyundai became the leading manufacturer of SUVs with the introduction of Venue compact SUV in 2019 and introduction of the Kia brand has further consolidated the position of the overall group," said a person aware of the group’s plans. “The company is focusing on increasing its presence in the SUV segment to start with, especially in the entry-level and mid-segment, which are considered volume drivers. They will adopt a similar strategy to gain ground in the electric vehicle segment as well. It will help them on the cost side," he said on condition of anonymity.

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp., too, have started cross-badging to deepen the collaboration between the two companies.

Hyundai and Kia SUVs share the same platform and other important components, while their exteriors and interiors differ significantly.

According to Avik Chattopadhyay, founder of Expereal, a brand consultant, Hyundai is following the same strategy that manufacturers like Groupe PSA and Volkswagen Group follow in Europe, which enhances the cost advantage.

“Companies need to think about what is the starting point for such a strategy, whether its badge engineering or product differentiation. Hyundai has managed to create very distinct positioning. Almost 70% of the components in these vehicles are the same. So, the product differentiation is the key to success," he added.

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