With the launch of the new Hyundai Xcent facelift comes another initiative from the Korean manufacturer. The company has now told us officially that the new Xcent launched on April 20 2017 is indeed just aimed at individual buyers and will not sold to the fleet or taxi segment in India. This vindicated what we'd reported in March when we told you that Hyundai would keep making the pre-facelift Xcent for the taxi market. Hyundai says it will now sell these cars to fleet buyers under the Prime brand. Rakesh Srivastava, Director Marketing and Sales, Hyundai Motor India shared details on this with me in an interview at the Hyundai Xcent launch. He said, "A product also introduced in the commercial segment loses aspirational value. We are trying to address this by way of a marketing initiative. In future all Hyundai initiatives for commercial segment would be branded under Prime series. We would like to differentiate the commercial product with the product that is going to address the requirement for personal mobility of the individual buyers. We would continue to address the requirements of the commercial segment by way of branding it differently."
For now this will apply to the Hyundai Xcent subcompact sedan and its hatch sibling, the Grand i10. The latter was also recently given a major facelift in February this year; the older version is still being made for taxi customers. That will also mean the taxi fleets will get only the 1.1 litre U2 CRDi diesel engine, and not the updated 1.2 litre on both cars. Srivastava said, "We have introduced the Grand i10 Prime, Xcent Prime - and they are all earlier versions of the products - and they will cater to the commercial segment. While the latest versions would be available towards individual buyers. And this initiative we will carry further."
Hyundai may consider following a similar strategy with the Verna as well, with a new generation car coming by the middle of this year. In fact overall it expects to see its sedan sales shoot up this year. For starters the Hyundai Xcent will lead that growth, though the new Verna will also contribute in the second half of the year. The Xcent currently sells around 4500 units a month. With the arrival of the facelift, Hyundai expects the Xcent to jump to over 6000 units (commercial sales of Xcent Prime included). And that is just the domestic sales. Hyundai also plans to ship it overseas.
The facelifted Hyundai Xcent will only be on sale to individual buyers
"Any manufacturer seeking volumes and sustained growth in India, has to participate in the below 4 metre sedan segment. We believe this product will (also) play a very strategic role towards furthering our presence, as Hyundai Motor India, in the global markets. We will export the new Xcent to over 40 countries. This is a very important product."
Hyundai was always exporting the Xcent to 42 countries earlier too, but expects volumes to increase on the back of the facelift. So its clear that Hyundai is betting big on the new Xcent - a product it had great expectations from when it first debuted in 2014, but one that didn't meet them. Now with the more plush and better looking, better loaded car - as also the previous version selling under Prime to fleet buyers - Hyundai believes it will be able to double volumes in the long term. So after riding the SUV to growth last year, it could be sedan that fires volume growth for Hyundai in the new fiscal year.