Hyundai global chief on a 3-day visit

Hyundai Motor Group's global chairman, Chung Mong-koo, arrived here on Saturday night, on a three-day tour.

It is described as a "private visit", though he's come with a 14-member group from the South Korean automobile giant, who are said to be largely technical experts.

An email sent to Hyundai Motor India, subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Corporation, did not get any reply.

An industry source said some "big announcement" might be made after his visit. "The announcement can also be on the second greenfield facility, which could be outside the state."

Sources said Chung's private aircraft arrived in Chennai on Saturday from Seoul. Two days before Chung's arrival, his chef arrived with around one tonne (about 1,000 kg) of food items, according to sources.

It is his first visit to India since 2010, and his third foreign inspection tour this year, after visits to Europe and America. In 2010, he'd come with the South Korean president, then the chief guest for the Republic Day Parade in Delhi, to Hyundai's factory at Sriperumbudur, 45 km from this city. A source said Chung was expected to spend most of his time there.

The capacity at Sriperumbudur is 630,000 cars a year. At the peak, when the market was good, production had reached 620,000 but it dropped last year due to a global slowdown. The annual turnover of this facility has been Rs 22,500 crore and Hyundai's investment in the state is around Rs 9,000 crore. It is a major contributor to both, central excise duty and income tax in the Indian automobile sector.

Consumer sentiment is back in the automobile sector. In Hyundai's case, domestic sales were up 19.2 per cent in August to 33,750 units from 28,311 units last year. In the January-July period, sales grew 13 per cent, taking its market share up 2.3 per cent to 23 per cent.