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January 15, 1998


Hyundai unveils new model at Auto Expo

send this story to a friend Kevin James in New Delhi

Even as Telco launched its new car, the foreign car giants were busy. Korean auto major Hyundai unveiled its new mini car, the Santro, which is scheduled to be launched in India later this year.

Hyundai's Santro Hyundai is also remodelling its mid-sized Accent. Says N M Kim, executive managing director, international marketing division, Hyundai, "The Accent will be modified and customised to suit the Indian market. We hope to introduce the new model in the Indian market by October 1998."

A prototype of the new version of the Accent will debut at the Geneva Motor Show, to be held mid-1998.

The remodelled Accent will be launched in India and Korea simultaneously. This car will be placed in the premium segment and will be priced competitively.

Hyundai's Santro, a multifunctional small car, is a 800 kg, 999 cc car fitted with a four-cylinder, 12-valve Epsilon engine. It will be the first small car in India to have a multi-valve engine. The car also features a semiautomatic transmission, which means a combination of low fuel consumption of manual transmission and easy automatic transmission. This is the first time that this technology has been introduced in India. The basic gearbox specifications on the Santro is a 5-speed manual.

According to auto experts, Hyundai has broken new ground by combining the spaciousness and versatility of a multipurpose vehicle with the practicality of a mini-car. The car has a height of 1590 mm, thus providing sufficient headspace.

The Santro is the modified version of the Atos, the company's 800 cc car for the Korean market. The company says it has adapted the Santro for Indian conditions.

Complying with the European Commission's Euro II emission standards, its Epsilon engine is a light compact and quiet power plant. To maximise combustion efficiency, the Epsilon engine features a pen-proof port which ensures a high swirl effect.

Priced at about Rs 300,000, it is positioned to compete with the Maruti Zen. Santro will be available in the country by October. Pilot production is expected to begin in May.

Hyundai managers say the company has appointed 70 dealers to market the car and plans to increase their numbers to 120 by the time the car is launched.

The company will invest Rs 22.2 billion in its Indian operations by the year-end. A further investment of Rs 10 billion will follow in various stages to create an R&D facility in India.

Hyundai also plans to go public within two years of its operation in India. According to Kim, as soon as the company breaks even in the Indian market it will proceed with its plans to go public. "Going public will help us penetrate the Indian market and increase the turnover," he said.

Mercedes still bullish about India

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