Emerging car markets around the world are quite unique, in that automakers routinely launch all-new cars to replace a particular model, while continuing to sell the older model by means of a variant rejig/repositioning. This phenomenon has played out with multiple car brands, in emerging car markets such as India, China, Russia and Brazil.
To illustrate, the Hyundai i10 has been re-positioned at a lower price tag, even as its replacement, the Grand i10 caters to a wider set of buyers. A similar case has played out with the Ford Fiesta, whose older model now sells as the Classic entry-level sedan even as the new car features the Fiesta nameplate. The same is the case with the Nissan Micra as well, whose older version is sold as the Micra Active, below the facelifted model.
Hyundai India, it seems, is likely to do a i10 with the all-new 2015 i20 B+ segment hatchback. According to Hyundai India’s senior vice-president for marketing & sales, Mr Rakesh Srivastava, the South Korean automaker believes that there is a space for a premium model above the i20. Hyundai plans to launch the new premium hatchback in India, during October, bang in the middle of country’s festive season, a time when car sales are at the year’s highest.
Inferring from Mr Srivastava’s comments, it appears that the new car will be the all-new i20 hatchback. However, Mr Srivastava has been guarded about the nameplate of the new car, choosing not to reveal the name. Are we looking at a Grand i20 or even perhaps the i30 moniker here? Well, time will tell.
We say this as the car has been spotted testing on Indian roads quite extensively. Also, the global reveal of the all-new 2015 i20 will happen at the Paris Motor Show, scheduled for October this year. With Hyundai launching the Grand i10 (the i10’s replacement) in India even before the car’s global launch, the 2015 is i20 is expected to quickly follow the global reveal into India.
Also, the all-new i20 is likely to co-exist with the current-generation model, which could see a variant rejig/re-positioning. This strategy will give Hyundai the leeway to experiment with a price point above that of the current i20’s, a hitherto unexplored territory in the Indian car market, except for say the Polo GT models. Both petrol and diesel engined variants of the new car will be sold in India.
With that, Hyundai will be able to gauge whether the Indian car buyer is ready to splurge on a premium hatchback that offers the space and features of a C-Segment sedan, but with a price tag well below the 10 lakh rupee mark. If the all-new 2015 Hyundai i20 is successful at a price point higher than the current-generation model, it could herald the creation of a new segment hatchback above the B+ segment.
Why the all-new i20 and not the i30 for India?
The i30 is a hatchback version of the Hyundai Verna, also known as the Accent in many parts of the world. The new i30 was introduced in October 2011, months after Hyundai launched the Verna C-Segment sedan. The car is over 2 years old internationally and has never been spotted testing in India. Therefore, Hyundai launching the hatchback variant of the Verna, known as the i30, without as much testing the car before launch, seems highly unlikely.