Young Key Koo, the MD of Hyundai Motor India Limited, is amongst the founder executives of the Indian subsidiary. He shares with Chanchal Pal Chauhan the journey of the South Korean giant in India. Edited excerpts.
BT: How do you aim to achieve the much desired target to emerging as the largest and most loved carmaker in India?
Young: Hyundai aims to be the most loved, trusted and caring car manufacturer in India. Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) a fully owned subsidiary, closed the calendar year 2015 with domestic sales of 4.7 lakh and export of 1.6 lakh units. We also achieved record sales of over 4.06 million vehicles in domestic market and exports of over 2.3 million vehicles since inception, making us the largest exporter of automobiles from India.
To enable customers to experience our new generation cars, Hyundai will introduce a new product every year in India till 2020. We have earmarked an investment outlay of Rs 1,000 crore for every new model. We are also strengthening our dealership as well as the post sales and service network across the country. The dealerships are being upgraded as per global dealership space identity (GDSI), a corporate programme created to enhance and offer premium experience to our customers across all outlets.
BT: Going by your almost two-decade long association with India and customers for more than 20 years, how do you plan to achieve the next level for the only Korean carmaker?
Young: In the 19 years that we have been in India, we have analysed the evolution of customers' needs and incorporated the feedback into our manufacturing. India is a very unique and diverse market with varied linguistic and geographic differences. Product preferences in India are aspirational for the 'Smart Buyer', who lays great emphasis on value, technology and innovation. With strong focus urban and rural markets, Hyundai will continue to strengthen its commitment to the Indian market with Hyundai's 10 robust product portfolio.
Our teams in India and Korea collaborate to create products based on the feedback. Santro, India's first tall boy car, was a product of this initiative as is the Creta, which is redefining the category across the globe. The products developed are from basis insights that we gathered and have helped Hyundai vehicles to be chosen as the prestigious 'Indian Car of The Year' for three successive years, in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
BT: As a successful carmaker so far, what are areas of immediate focus to expand your market and take on Maruti Suzuki?
Young: The Indian market is one of the fastest growing economies across the globe, recording a consistent GDP growth of over 7 per cent. We see a lot of opportunity in both urban and rural markets for us to grow and enhance market share. Customer aspiration in urban and rural markets is high and they are looking for niche value products. Hyundai is positioned strongly as a modern premium brand across segments. Rural markets will be a key component in Hyundai's strategy to acquire more market share in the Indian automobile market. We are confident we will strongly penetrate rural markets and offer 'Hyundai Experience' to every customer. HMIL models like Eon, i10, Grand i10 and Xcent enjoy the trust of consumers in rural markets and with the sales success of Creta, we believe we are well poised to consolidate our market share even further.
BT: As a marketing expert, in your new role of MD, what are the initiatives to make motoring and passenger cars unique to the Indian customer?
Young: Hyundai Motor India sees itself as an integral part of the Indian family for the past 19 years. Our marketing efforts are therefore aligned with Indian culture and ethos. Now we also have a 'Smart Marketing' strategy of which there is a strong focus on digital media with a robust 360-degree marketing plan. To reach out to millennial audience, Hyundai has significantly strengthened its presence across digital domain and enjoys the largest following on social media with over six million fans on Facebook with innovative techniques to connect, engage and interact with the digital audience actively using Youtube, Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram and twitter share brand communications.
BT: As you are one of the founder members of Hyundai Motor India's operation in 1997 and played a key role in building sales and marketing operation from 2008-2011, how do you plan to shape the company after two decades of success?
Young: As the second largest car manufacturer and the largest exporter, our future direction is to be "the most loved and trusted car brand" with a lifetime partnership with our consumers. The 'new age' Hyundai will be an expression of finesse, quality, design and technological superiority with 'Make in India' products for the world. Quality is the core and Hyundai as the fastest growing automobile brand will continue to maintain quality benchmarks with a strong focus on localisation of its products. We have a large network of channel partners and a strong base of suppliers. Our 'Creative Quality Management System' model is unique to Hyundai's quality control maintaining global standards wherein, quality and productivity are simultaneous functions.
BT: What is your focus on the newly emerging strong areas of design and technology?
Young: Customers opting for global models in India and internationally have a strong focus on unique styling (Fluidic Sculpture 2.0), infotainment features and safety. Requirements are divergent in terms of interior styling, power and transmissions, which vary on the country specific scale of importance. All this we have been able to deliver with high localisation, which we developed since inception. Majority of our products have localisation levels over 90 per cent.
BT: Any other step/strategies you want to share on new initiatives planned for the Indian market?
Young: Hyundai has successfully brought world-class products to the Indian market in the past 19 years. India is an extremely promising market and one of the biggest in the world for the parent Hyundai Motors. With a $3.2-billion investment and production capacity of 6.8 lakh cars per year, Hyundai has developed its global modern and premium brand direction in India by understanding the need of the increasingly aspirational Indian customer. We have a clear strategy to enhance our market by launching new and refurbished products in the high volume segments. Besides, we would continuously improve the price-value equations by enhancing focus on product quality, customer satisfaction and investments into our sales and service network for Tier II and III cities. Besides, it is our continuous endeavour to connect with youth though new marketing activities and evolve as a youthful and exciting brand.