Home / Companies / People /  We are on the cusp of a new automation era, says Hyundai’s S.S. Kim

In our second interview in the Pivot or Perish series, wherein top companies share their vision for mapping the future after the coronavirus outbreak, S.S. Kim, managing director, Hyundai Motors India Ltd, the country’s second-largest carmaker, shared how digital will play a critical role in sales operations of automobile companies. Usage of vehicles will also change drastically towards greener solutions, Kim said. In an interview, he emphasized that the manufacturing process and supply chain will evolve differently in the near term, as companies focus on reducing dependencies. Edited excerpts:

What changes will the auto industry witness in the entire production and retail ecosystem after this pandemic?

The ongoing global challenge is changing human attitudes and behaviours today, and preparing organizations to respond for tomorrow. Brands are working to plan strategies, which will bring about new trends. We expect customers to prefer brands that will solve problems, focus on greener economics and showcase the human side of enterprise where communities- and people-focused social activities will take centre stage.

The digitization process is expected to be in focus in the near term, especially with respect to sales and service levels. Keeping this in mind, our strategy to go digital is working for us. Our ‘click to buy’ portal addresses the need of new-age digital customers for purchase of new Hyundai cars.

Hyundai is also offering customers its 360-digital service and contact-less service experience, through which customers can book a service appointment online through the Hyundai Care app, WhatsApp, Hyundai Website, or a call to dealers.

How will Hyundai manage the downturn, protect its market share and continue to invest in future product development?

The challenges associated with the current crisis are a test of our resilience. With production shutdowns taking effect for over a month, we at Hyundai, remain focused and nimble to better navigate this crisis. It is during this time that we reflect on our core values and further strengthen the consumer trust in after-sales service.

As our customers’ lifetime mobility partner, Hyundai Motor India will continue to engage customers through various platforms. Our focus currently is on the near-term impactful measures that can help our society, employees, dealers and supply partners, to safely navigate these turbulent times and, subsequently, on ways to quickly restore operations and near-normalcy.

Under the umbrella of the ‘Hyundai Cares’ initiative, we are geared up to meet these challenges with sufficient measures that will enhance customer confidence, while ensuring a safe showroom and workshop environment for customers and employees.

In a post-covid-19 world, the use and utility of vehicles are expected to change. Digital engagement would go up and, thus, the connectivity and internet features, especially in cars, are likely to surge.

Hyundai has been introducing unique and innovative mobility solutions for the Indian customers. Our partnership with Revv in 2018 has attained significant milestone achieving 2,500 subscriptions. This achievement strongly reflects changing preference of customers for alternate mobility solutions and their trust in Hyundai’s innovative product offerings.

How will production and supply chains pivot towards new market realities post-covid-19?

The manufacturing process and supply chains will see changes in the near-term, as companies focus on reducing dependencies. Over the past two decades, automation in manufacturing has been transforming factory floors and the nature of manufacturing employment.

Today, we are on the cusp of a new automation era: Rapid advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, which are enabling automobile manufacturers to create products that are safer and more environment friendly without compromising on performance.

At Hyundai, we have already adopted automation and digitization in an evolved way, adopting Industry 4.0.

Our fully integrated state-of-the-art manufacturing plant near Chennai boasts advanced production, quality and testing capabilities. We will continue to evaluate the automation for the future in order to best capture value from automation over the long term.

Our journey of automation has always been keeping dirty, dull and dangerous jobs in mind and we will continue to do in the same lines in order to best capture value from automation over the long term.

How challenging will the next one year be for business, and what is your outlook for the Indian market?

India is one of the fastest-growing large economies in the world. It is also a young economy with robust domestic demand, high savings rate and regulatory mechanisms, which makes it a resilient economy.

Will companies be able to efficiently follow the just-in-time production model in the post-pandemic world?

Over recent decades, supply chains have globalized, specialized and become leaner or just-in-time. However, the pandemic has got manufacturers to re-ascertain their supply-chain dependencies and minimize risks, which will benefit them in the long run.

How will the covid-19 pandemic impact Hyundai’s component manufacturers? How will the company ensure financial stability for its dealers and suppliers during the current crisis?

As a responsible company, we are working closely with all banks to ensure the best possible support for our dealers and suppliers both during the lockdown period, as well as once the lockdown is lifted.

What steps should the Indian government take to help the economy recover from the current downturn?

While companies are reworking their business reformation plans, government support for a quicker revival cannot be emphasized more. We at Hyundai, apart from offering exciting products to customers, are working with the government through the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) with three key focus areas for the automotive industry. First and foremost, is finance. Critically to the dealer, so that they can manage their inventories and their costs.

The government is considering relief for the medium and small enterprises and most dealers fall in that category. It is also critical that consumer finance continues strong, since 80% of car sales are on finance.

We are positive that the government would consider a measured scrappage scheme that would spur demand. Another major aspect is taxation, where the government can spur demand. A cut on excise duties to reduce prices or relief on personal taxes can leave more money in the consumers’ hand.

In our second interview in the Pivot or Perish series, wherein top companies share their vision for mapping the future after the coronavirus outbreak

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