Hyundai's price jolt for Maruti

Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL), the country's second largest passenger vehicle manufacturer, has triggered a price war in the entry-level sedan segment with the launch of Hyundai XCent tagged between Rs 4.66 lakh and Rs 7.38 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The entry-price of the base variant of the XCent is around Rs 19,000 lower than the comparable variant of segment leader Maruti Suzuki DZire, which is priced at Rs 4.85 lakh.

B S Seo, managing director and chief executive officer, HMIL says, the company has invested extensive effort in competitively pricing XCent to offer excellent value. PRICE CARD XCENT PETROL:
Rs 4.66  – Rs 7.19 lakh XCENT DIESEL:
Rs 5.56  – Rs 7.38 lakh MARUTI SUZUKI DZIRE PETROL:
Rs 4.85  – Rs 6.66 lakh MARUTI SUZUKI DZIRE DIESEL:
Rs 5.78  – Rs 7.32 lakh HONDA AMAZE:
Rs 4.99  – Rs 7.49 lakh

The XCent, which is based on the Grand i10 platform is available in two engine options - 1.2 litre Kappa Dual VTVT petrol engine and 1.1 litre advanced second generation U2 CRDi diesel engine. Hyundai is also offering two petrol-powered automatic transmissions options of the XCent priced at Rs 6.28 lakh and Rs 7.19 lakh. Apart from Maruti Suzuki DZire and Honda Amaze, Hyundai XCent will take on Tata Motors' entry-sedan Zest, which is scheduled for launch in the second half of 2014.

"With the Xcent, we are entering one of the fastest growing segments in the Indian car market. Last year (2013), the compact sedan segment grew by 28.5 per cent at about 24,000 units a month. We want to be a significant player in this segment," says Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales & marketing), HMIL. The new sub-4m sedan XCent has localisation levels of around 90 per cent, which has helped Hyundai to price the car aggressively to take on rivals.

Overall, according to data available with industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) as many as 192,084 entry-level sedans (with length between 4000-4250 mm and engine displacement up to 1.6 litre) were sold in the country till January this fiscal, which is an increase of which is an increase of around eight percent over the 177,777 units sold in the same period last fiscal. Passenger vehicle sales have declined by 6.13 per cent in the same period.

Growth in the entry-level sedan segment has largely been driven by the introduction of sub-4 metre sedans, Amaze by Honda Cars India (launched in April 2013) and DZire by Maruti Suzuki. Honda has already clocked sales of 66,859 units of the Amaze - which accounts for over 65 per cent of its overall volumes in the first 10 months of the fiscal. Maruti Suzuki has, in the meantime, sold 162,095 units of the DZire, which is an increase of 23.6 per cent over the 131,177 units sold in the same period last year.

The Xcent is Hyundai's fourth offering in the sedan segment after Elantra, Sonata and Verna. The new sedan qualifies for the excise duty benefit, enjoyed by small cars in India and has enabled Hyundai to price the car aggressively in the Indian market. At present, any car with a petrol engine capacity under 1,200 cc or diesel engine under 1,500 cc, but length shorter than four metres, attracts an excise duty of eight per cent. Bigger vehicles attract excise duties of 20 and 24 per cent.

The XCent sports Hyundai's popular fluidic design, which is most commonly seen on the Hyundai Verna and Hyundai Elantra. The Xcent has rear AC vents - a segment first, rear parking camera and sensors, auto folding mirrors, amongst a host of other features.

The car carries the name of Hyundai's earlier top selling mid-size sedan Accent, which has now been phased out from the Indian market. Sales of Accent had slumped by 66.8 per cent to a mere 2931 units in FY13 at a time when overall volumes in the category grew 21 per cent to 226,502 units.

Besides XCent, the Korean auto major had additionally launched Grand i10 in September last year. Hyundai is expecting to sell 200,000 units of the car annually, which has been designed to challenge the dominance of Maruti Suzuki Swift. With sales of 184,897 units last fiscal, Swift is the second largest selling passenger vehicle in India.

Besides this, on cards are a compact sports utility vehicle and a multi-purpose vehicle slated for launch in India by 2015. The new products will be positioned in the fast-growing utility vehicle segment which has beaten the market blues to post an increase of 52 per cent to sell 553,660 units in the last financial year.