In 1997 when the first Hyundai Santro rolled off the lines at Irungattukottai near Chennai, the South Korean carmaker had little idea of how extraordinarily successful it would be. Not only did Hyundai become the first credible competitor to what was then Maruti Udyog, today Maruti Suzuki, the company's Indian adventure was to spark a tremendous climb for the plucky company up the global auto charts.
Santro may have done well, but Hyundai lately felt it could go in for an even smaller car to take on Maruti's immensely successful Alto, which sells over 35,000 units every month. Thus, 'Eon' was born
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Interior of Eon
Eon, which will have a three-cylinder 814cc petrol engine, is expected to rev up Hyundai's sales at the entry-level of the small car segment, where the 14-year-old Santro has been showing signs of decline. Yet, with Hyundai Motor India's current capacity full to the brim, thanks to the success of i10 and i20, the company may have to cut back on export orders, if Eon is to take off, says Arvind Saxena, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
Back view of Eon
|ENGINE 3-cylinder, 814cc, Petrol|
OVERALL LENGTH 3.495 metres
ESTIMATED PRICE Under Rs 3 lakh
LAUNCH DATE October 2011
Hyundai does not believe the recent Rs 3.14 hike in the per litre price of petrol will affect demand for the new car. "In most small Indian cities, people drive 30 to 40 km a day, which makes petrol cars still affordable," says Saxena. Neither is he worried about Eon cutting into Santro sales. "We feel the new car will attract design-conscious, young, first-time buyers. I believe the Santro will remain a family car, appealing to more conservative buyers." The Hyundai India sales head adds that he really does not want to slot the car in any segment, but with prices expected to be in the Rs 3-lakh bracket, it might turn out to be a bigger spoiler for Maruti's Alto than the current labour issues the Japanese company faces.