In an attempt to lay claim to a bigger piece in India’s passenger EV pie, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. — India’s second-largest selling passenger vehicle brand — has said that its all-electric crossover utility vehicle (CUV) IONIQ 5 will be introduced in India in the second half of 2022. According to the carmaker, it is an epochal moment for the company, for the launch of the IONIQ 5 will mark the beginning of Hyundai’s battery electric vehicle (BEV) expansion plans in India. “Under the aegis of Beyond Mobility, Hyundai will continue to drive the adoption of BEVs in India,” the company says.

“Hyundai Motor India has already committed to the expansion of our BEV line-up to six models by 2028 and today, with great pride we are announcing the introduction of IONIQ 5 in CY22 in India. IONIQ 5 will epitomise the innovative application of intelligent technology in mobility. With our 25-year journey of togetherness in India, Hyundai is happy to partner with this great nation on a new quest to charge up the adoption of EVs at scale,” mentions Unsoo Kim, MD & CEO, Hyundai Motor India Limited, in the announcement. The IONIQ 5 was recently crowned the World Car of the Year (WCOTY) for 2022, and the company sold 7,685 units globally in March — making it the most popular electric vehicle offered by Hyundai. The car will be introduced in India on Hyundai’s globally acclaimed Skateboard Platform E-GMP (Electric Global Modular Platform).

Hyundai currently offers only the Kona Electric in its fleet of electric passenger vehicles in India. According to figures released by FADA, Hyundai sold 128 electric vehicles in FY22 — a figure bettered by homegrown carmaker Mahindra, and the British MG Motor. The segment currently remains a stronghold for Tata Motors — which holds an eye-watering 85% share in the nascent yet burgeoning segment. However, industry observers have noted that this monopolistic market share is also because there aren’t enough choices for the customer. “Assume a consumer wants to buy an electric vehicle equivalent to the Hyundai Creta, there isn’t any electric alternative. The Nexon EV sells for that price bracket, but the customer may not be satisfied with the value proposition,” Rohan Kanwar Gupta, vice president and sector head, corporate ratings, ICRA, tells Fortune India.

However, what has worked for Hyundai in India is leveraging the perceptible shift of Indian car buyers towards utility vehicles, to an extent where its sales toppled the sales. “The growing popularity for SUVs in India is in line with the global trend, wherein SUVs have emerged as the vehicle of choice. Accordingly, OEMs have taken notice of the shift in consumer preferences, and the segment has seen numerous model launches over the past few years,” contextualises Gupta. The SUV segment demand has been particularly boosted by the advent of the sub 4-metre compact SUV segment — making the SUVs easily manoeuvrable through dense traffic. “Some of the factors driving the shift in consumer preferences include — higher ground clearance and wheelbase aiding drive quality, higher seating position aiding view of the road ahead, ample storage space etc.,” he adds.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that Hyundai Motor’s highest-selling model was the Hyundai Creta — which clocked in sales of 10,532 models in March. Even for Tata Motors, its highest-selling model was the Tata Nexon, which sold 14,315 units in March (outselling the Maruti Suzuki Swift), and the Tata Punch taking second place with 10,526 units. In total, 14,89,178 utility vehicles were sold in India in FY 2022, whereas 14,67,056 passenger vehicles were sold in the same period. In contrast, in FY19, passenger vehicles sold 22,18,489 units and UVs sold only 9,41,474 units.

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