Hyundai India has two important launches slated to happen this year. The first is the new-generation Elantra which will compete with the likes of the Skoda Octavia and the Chevrolet Cruze. It is already confirmed that Hyundai will bring in the new Elantra in August 2016. However, the other launch, which was supposed to follow the Elantra, was the Hyundai Tucson. We've recently learnt that the launch of the Hyundai Tuscon may get delayed and we don't think this is a bad thing. The company was planning to bring the premium SUV in September, roughly a month later as per their planned timelines. However, sources indicate say that this may not go exactly as planned. The South Korean automobile giant is contemplating pushing the launch of the Tucson to the end of 2016, and may even defer it to 2017. Why?
This is to give the forthcoming Elantra some breathing space in the market since there really isn't a demand for sedans presently in the 15-20 lakh bracket. Sales numbers for both Toyota and Skoda are already down. Even Honda isn't entirely convinced of bringing back the Civic. In this environment the Elantra will need all the support it can get to keep interest high.
If the Tuscon comes in, we expect it to be priced below the Santa Fe. This means pricing, could begin at Rs 18 lakh and go up to Rs 22-25 lakh. This would put it roughly in the same space as the Elantra. And given how Indians find an SUV far more attractive and valuable than a sedan, odds are that the Elantra's sales would get cannibalized by the Tuscon.
Add to this is the fact that the Creta is still doing considerably well in the market with a monthly sales of 8,000 to 10,000 units. Demand is still high for the Creta and having to juggle between two SUVs in the market and that too both priced close to each other could completely divert attention from the Elantra. And the Elantra is a very critical model for Hyundai. Positioned as a premium offering, the Hyundai Elantra won the 2013 OVERDRIVE car of the year and also was the best-selling sedan in the D-segment in India. The Fluidic philosophy was a giant leap from the designs of the first generation sedan. This combined with a modern set of features helped Hyundai dominate the segment. With the new generation Elantra, Hyundai will take it a notch higher especially with the Genesis inspiration on the design front. The cabin too is expected to grow more premium and will come equipped with class leading features, for both comfort and safety.
Coming to the Hyundai Tucson. Hyundai India previewed the premium SUV at the 2016 Auto Expo. It is already known that the India-bound Tucson will be powered by a 178PS 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel motor, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Going by the current environment however, where diesels are much maligned for most of our pollution problems, one would expect the Tuscon may also get affected. However with a displacement of under 2,000cc, the Hyundai Tucson should not be affected. While there is still no clarity on what policy will dictate, this does not send out the right sentiments to consumers who are a very confused lot right now. Will the NGT lift the diesel ban or bring it into effect in other cities around the country, there is simply no clarity. It may just be prudent to wait and watch just what does India's environment policies hold in store.
Both the new-generation Elantra and the Tucson will hold a strong position in the Hyundai's portfolio as the company is moving towards the premium segments. This will also make room for its upcoming brand Kia Motors to compete against more mass market offerings without perhaps upsetting Hyundai's apple cart.
Nonetheless there is still no official word on the delay. Senior officials have been closely engaged in deciding if the Tucson launch should be deferred and we should have some word on the developments shortly.