Disruptive innovation and EVs will bring unprecedented changes to the Indian automotive industry: Hyundai

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Y.K. Koo, managing director and CEO of Hyundai Motor India Ltd

By 2030, the Indian government plans to have only electric cars on the roads. This is a challenging target to achieve. In spite of a range of obstacles, most auto giants are preparing to foray into the Indian market. In an interaction with Baishakhi Dutta of Electronics Bazaar, Y.K. Koo, managing director and CEO of Hyundai Motor India Ltd, shares how the car manufacturer is gearing up to launch its first electric car in India. Excerpts follow…

EB: Do you see India’s road conditions improving enough to accommodate four-wheeler EVs?
I believe that India’s robust growth is inspirational. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has brought forth a national blueprint that offers opportunities for everyone, from knowledge based growth to future oriented infrastructure. The Indian automotive industry will see a wave of unprecedented changes and growth, by seeking new possibilities through disruptive innovation, and electric vehicles will play an important role in this arena.

EB: What are the pillars of Hyundai’s future mobility plans?
Dialogues in the mobility space are rapidly shifting from car based models to smart mobile models built for future sustainability. Automakers are embracing the dawn of smart mobility technology, which is more environment-friendly and efficient.

Hyundai’s smart mobility solutions are based on three pillars: Clean Mobility, Freedom in Mobility and Connected Mobility. Electric vehicles are one of the most important components of the first pillar of Clean Mobility. Hyundai is well prepared to offer all types of electric vehicles, including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

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Under the second pillar of Freedom in Mobility, the company aims to create an environment in which everyone has unlimited access to safe and convenient transportation.
We are developing a ‘Connected Car Programme’ that links personal cars to other cars, offices, and even the wider urban environment for added security and convenience, under the third pillar of Connected Mobility.

The Indian government’s Make in India initiative has been very successful, and the next phase of growth will be driven by other such government initiatives, including Digital India and Startup India.

Hyundai Motors also strives to provide freedom of movement for everyone by establishing strategic business partnerships with car sharing startups, which involves investing in mobility services such as car sharing.

EB: How far have you progressed in launching your first EV four-wheeler in India?
Hyundai aims to lead the way in mobility solutions and is committed to achieving India’s vision of sharing, connecting, and zero emissions. Our commitment towards Make in India goes back 20 years. We showcased the Kona Electric at the Global Mobility Summit 2018. This model reflects all the modern technological advances in the field of environmentally clean mobility.
We are considering bringing the Kona EV to India in the second half of 2019, and are currently studying the Indian market as well as the EV infrastructure and the roads. Initially we will import the cars as completely knocked down units (CKD).

EB: How many manufacturing plants do you have in India at the moment? Any further expansion plans on the cards?
Hyundai Motor India has two state-of-art manufacturing plants in Sriperumbudur, Chennai. These modern large scale manufacturing facilities cover 535 acres and are equipped with advanced Industry 4.0 production equipment, with more than 590 fourth generation robots, quality and testing capabilities, and a flexible engine factory to meet the needs of the Indian and global markets.

The plants are ready to meet safety and emission standards that are ahead of the times, such as the mandatory industry implementation standards for 2019. In a time span of 19 years 9 months, the Hyundai plant has rolled out 8 million cars. We have implemented smart manufacturing, or Industry 4.0 practices, and focused on Big Data and data analytics to produce high quality and zero defect vehicles with foolproof quality inspection and assurance systems.

Kona EV to be launched in India in Q2 2019

EB: Tell us your strategy to consistently improve production capabilities and maintain sustainability in your facilities.
The production capacity of 700,000 units will be enhanced through value engineering to 750,000 units in 2019 without any future investments. Hyundai Motor Factory focuses on environmental protection, and on green manufacturing and self-sustainable resources. There are four ponds at our campus, spread across 15 acres, for rain water harvesting. As a part of the energy conservation initiative, we have installed LED retrofit bulbs that have not only brought down the energy consumption but have saved the plant over ₹130 million per year in electricity costs.

EB: News is that you plan to invest over ₹ 60 billion in the next three years in India—what will the investments be for?
The investments will be on new products, the development of powertrains and the setting up of a new office building in Gurugram. As part of our commitment to the Indian market, we will be launching eight new products by 2020, and a major part of the investments will go towards this.

In 2019, we will be launching a compact SUV, the QXi, and an electric SUV. We will share more details when we are closer to the launch date. Our goal is to have a stronger presence in the market, in the current and newer segments, and to achieve brand supremacy in each segment with our super performing brands.

EB: What is your market share in India and across the globe right now?
Hyundai Motor India contributes to over 15 per cent of Hyundai Motor Company’s global sales. Recognising the strength of the Indian market, Hyundai Motor Company has announced an overseas business reorganisation transforming Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) into a regional headquarters, on par with North America and Europe. HMIL will now operate with more power, greater integration, and take swift decisions to actively respond to rapidly evolving market trends and customer needs. As the regional headquarters, HMIL will play a crucial role in business planning, future product planning and in enhancing the customer experience.

EB: What is the roadmap ahead for the next two years?
In 2017, we have sold 527,000 units in India, achieving a growth of 5.4 per cent. In 2018, our focus will be to sell over 700,000 vehicles while strengthening our manufacturing excellence, customer experience, marketing innovation and corporate social responsibility. Meanwhile, we are also working on the technologies of tomorrow.

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