Hyundai stops production of its Santro hatchback

Hyundai ends the production of its entry-level Santro hatchback at its Tamil Nadu plant. Launched in 1998, it was the Santro that introduced the Korean carmaker to the Indian customer. The first-gen model was on sale till 2014; four years later, Hyundai brought back the Santro as an Eon replacement.

Hyundai reintroduced the Santro in 2018 at a starting price of ₹ 3.9 lakh, going up to ₹ 5.5 lakh for the top variant. At launch, the Santro had fresh design cues and was even sold with a CNG option for its 1.1-litre petrol engine. Hyundai positioned the Santro at the higher end of the budget segment offering features such as rear AC vents and a touchscreen. The car, however, still lacked a few basic features such as intermittent windshield wipers in all variants.

The entry-level variant of the Santro was pricey for what it offered. It even lacked a factory-fitted AC at that price point. Plus, the Santro’s higher variants, at launch, were priced above the entry-level variants of the now-discontinued Grand i10, which was more spacious and came with a more powerful 1.2-litre engine.

In 2019, Hyundai looked at repositioning the Santro’s lower variants to take on the entry-level hatchback segment rivals, including stalwarts such as the Alto and the 800cc Renault Kwid. The advent of the stringent BS6 norms resulted in higher input costs, which translated into even higher retail prices.

Sales for the Santro peaked initially, but later, has mostly been on a downslide, and customer interest has been dwindling too. The shifting consumer trend towards SUVs or SUV-like high-riding vehicles also contributed to the downfall. Maruti Suzuki gauged this trend much earlier and replaced its slow-selling Alto K10 with the S-Presso high-riding hatchback that presented SUV-like styling cues. Sales of the S-Presso stood at around 67,000 units in FY2022, which averages to around 5,500 units a month. Meanwhile, Santro’s sales for FY2022 averaged at just around 2,000 units a month.

Also, the recent government order on the mandatory fitment of six airbags could be another nail in the Santro’s coffin as Hyundai will have to re-engineer the car to meet the requirements, and the additional costs would not justify the car’s positioning. Additionally, with the upcoming BS6.2 emission norms, upgrading the 1.1-litre engine — which is only available on the Santro — will not be financially justifiable.

The Grand i10 Nios will now be Hyundai’s entry-level model for India. The hatchback starts at ₹ 5.39 lakh (ex-showroom). There are talks of Hyundai introducing a micro-SUV under the Venue (also due for a facelift soon), which, with its high riding character, could be the future Santro of SUVs.

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Printable version | Jun 9, 2022 11:20:13 am |