The biggest story of 2011 : Hyundai EON vs Maruti Alto



For a car with such a huge potential, the launch of the Hyundai was rather subdued. But does it have enough punch in it to unsettle the 6 year long hegemony of the Maruti Alto as the largest selling car in India?

A little over two years ago, the then managing director of Hyundai Motor India H S Lheem very casually remarked that the Korean carmaker was looking to go below its entry level Santro and make a car smaller and cheaper than it. The industry then and the press as well, was living in the frenzy of the Nano that had just been showcased to the world in the Delhi Auto Expo 2008 and small cars, micro ones at that, were the talk of the town. See chart

The very affable Lheem, was known to speak a little too in haste and has on various occasions proved to be a PR person’s nightmare. A couple of such instances that come to my mind was when he talked about the possibility of bringing in a diesel version of the Santro and then again when he announced the eventual phasing out plans of the Getz and Elantra at a time when it was not fully decided yet.

As such, his words of the sub Santro segment car were picked up but not given the due importance it deserved. That maybe because everybody was hooked to the Nano story and Lheem was categorical that a Nano, Hyundai would never make. Feels like deja vu then as the launch of the Eon was as casual as the first utterence of its development.

Today, the Nano resembles more like a ghost of what it could have been. Against an anticipated production of 250,000 units per annum, it is struggling to even churn up a third of that number. The Eon though, despite the trappings of a lack of ambition and a higher price tag, almost looks like a winner.

The sub Santro, Rs 2-3.3 lakh segment has few players right now, namely the entire Alto/Alto K10 range, most of the Santro range and parts of the Spark. The cars in this segment are priced more than the Maruti 800 and Tata Nano, but nevertheless, it commands almost a fifth of the entire sales in the industry.

These cars today sell more on account of dormancy of competition and low per capita consumption of the Indian public than any inherent merit. The Alto, a brand first founded in Japan in 1979, is now over 11 years old in India and the k10 notwithstanding, looks very dated. So are the Santro and Spark. The former is ironically made and sold only in India today while the latter is a repackaged version of the old Daewoo Matiz, a car that was first introduced in India in the 90s.

In the last 10 years, not one car has been launched in this segment. Many, like GM and Ford have looked at it and turned away, The price is too low and margins wafer thin. The list of features that can be given at this price is so few that increasing regulations would force the cars out of the markets sooner than later. Further, even if a manufacturer manages to make a car at this price, the potential for exports would be negligible. Not worth a shout for global carmakers like GM, Ford or even an India centric Suzuki.

Even then, the growth of the Alto in India showed that this segment would continue to offer volumes and would hold steady. The Alto continues to be a nicely packaged, frugal, commuter car. But in reality, it is a success only because nobody else can match it for the price. Not anymore.

Eon has managed to scare Maruti in a way that people expected Nano would do. For the first time in over a year, Maruti launched a cosmetically modified version of the Alto in a bid to make it look more contemporary as also create some noise to disipate the din surrounding the Hyundai car.

The Eon feels and looks modern and makes competition look pale in comparison. The fit and finish and quality of plastic is very good for its class and though it is not that bigger than rivals, it looks bigger, Infact from the front, it looks like a miniature version of the i10. Maruti knows very well, Eon is a better car than the Alto.

It is not without its flaws and as it is, perfection can hardly be expected with a car that costs so less. Its rear seats are cramped and the windows are so small that one would feel claustrophobic. It also suffers from some spooky pricing strategy that has led to features like AC and power steering being traded at the altar of the price. A car may look upmarket by how it feels and drives but lack of features more than nullifies that feeling.

But the biggest challenge for Hyundai would be whether it can rouse itself out of its feeling of pessimism and inject some enthusiasm and ambition into the Eon story? With this car, for perhaps only the second time, there is a chance that Maruti could be dealt a body blow. The first time, it happened with the Santro. It is not a surprise then, that Maruti is not taking Eon casually.

When would Hyundai start taking itself a little more seriously?

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  • Rahul

    Thankfully I didn’t walk into one of these clinics during my recent India trip. I had a good experience getting a Lap band procedure done in India. Initially I was a little apprehensive but once I landed at the hospital, the experience turned out really well. The doctors were very professional and the infrastructure was impressive. I took help from folks at http://www.india4health.com and they helped me arrange the treatment and stay in Goa. Its been 7 months now and I look great. I wish the doctors and the staff success. Definitely visit Goa and Kerala if you get a chance… Rahul, Fiji

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  • Mycar Helpline

    Correct. But Hyundai has slightly priced EON higher with base variant on road price in Delhi will be close to Rs. 3 Lacs and top end variant Sportz will be above Rs.4 Lacs
    Had a test drive of Magna Option – the car is pretty fine in exteriors, looks and style but does not appeal in driving . By Spending in Rs. 3.5 Lac for Magna – you expect the car not to be too shaky while driving. Thats personal experience.

    Anyhow – for detailed review of Eon and comparison with Maruti Alto may refer the New Car section :- http://www.mycarhelpline.com/index.php?option=com_newcar&view=category&Itemid=2&brand=2

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  • Ramesh Talwani

    MR WANGCHUK ,WHY DONOT YOU ALSO THINK GOOD OF NATION. IF SO DO YOU APPROVE THE APPROACH OF MANAGEMENT OF YOUR PAPER.
    BE HONEST AND ANSWER PLEASE.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/mathewselene Selene mathew

    Eon is a big step up in terms of styling and performance. Highlighted by its contemporary appearance and upscale and roomy interior design.
    Car Buying Guide

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  • http://www.blurbpoint.com/link-building-services.php Link Building Services

    Totally agree with one sentence that think good and act good. As whatever we think that happen to us and we allow our selves to build as that. And in thinking , positive thinking always be helpful for the own growth. One which used to think positively can find half of his/her work done itself without any effort and not need to get any stress for it. And apart from the thinking , one thing more which impact on human self is the vision. From which side of the thing we learn the more is also matter to build the pure soul and self.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XAVBIBSZW4ITEUU7A4MJXBIXVU Saahil

    Whatever it is, instead of spending Rs. 3.5 Lac on 796CC engine , its preferable to go in for the second hand car.. May be a Honda City 2006 model seems a better bet now or even the Old verna is available at such a price tag.. What say, checked this all at latest stocks at http://www.usedcarindelhi.com/

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  • SADHU-VEDANT-MUNI

    the planning commission and other agencies are playing the datas. they are lining in dreams like MUNGERILAL KE HSEEN SAPNE, the naked truth the officials and politicians and ministers are not purchasing any thing from their pockets and secondly they are so highly paid so prices are in effective to them. they have no idea what is the poverty.सब कुछ हमारे देश में रोटी नहीं तो क्या, वादा लपेट लो लंगोटी नहीं तो क्या.they are taking a bread with other items like salads, butter, fruits and dry fruits so they think that one bread is sufficient where as poor taking breads with salt and onions. he not able to take drinking water where they are getting/ suing mineral waters.सब कुछ लुटा के बैठी हैं एक लड़की अपने कोठे में , मुझे याद आती हैं कितनी ताकत होती हैं एक रोटी में.today you can not get poison in that amount. now a days if you are hunger no body will give you bread. if you will be KASAB so you will be known as govt’s property for his securies they are spending millions of rupees on him. is there poverty. so it is the duty of the govt to see the naked truth in grass root level. if not crime rates will increase and people will interested to go jail happily where they will be more secured. so try to understand the beauty of poverty. if not revolution will be there.

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  • Rahuuul Sharma

    Please check the Ownership threads on Hyundai Eon, I hope this would help you to understand you need according to your budget and features list.
    http://www.indiagarage.com/thread15750.html

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  • Establisher

    Na, Indians dont treat white people as anything, you are not a bone of contention at all.Average Indian family in the US – 88,000 Dollars.Average neaderthal family – 35,000/year.To date a white man is like cultural suicide for an Indian, to marry a White girl !!!.Wow, Moms gonna commit suicide.Aryans dont worship anyone but themselves and we dont let whites or blacks into our circle.Nice try though.

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  • ABCI

    I am a proud ABCI/coconut who is ashamed of my Indian roots because PIO’s especially those of NI origin are the most racist people on the planet. Go to any country with an PIO population and you will be shocked at the way they talk about people of SI or African origin – just check out the comments by Sameer for example. Also in Fiji and African countries the PIO’s segregate themselves from the locals and are hated. In western countries thy lick the asses of white people but treat blacks and other dark skinned asians/PIO’s like ****.
    Oh and to the commenter Sameer, I live in Sydney and can tell you that most Indian students are racist Punjabi’s including those that ran back home to their mummies.

    [Reply]

  • ABCI

    I am a proud ABCI/coconut who is ashamed of my Indian roots because PIO’s especially those of NI origin are the most racist people on the planet. Go to any country with an PIO population and you will be shocked at the way they talk about people of SI or African origin – just check out the comments by Sameer for example. Also in Fiji and African countries the PIO’s segregate themselves from the locals and are hated. In western countries thy lick the asses of white people but treat blacks and other dark skinned asians/PIO’s like ****.
    Oh and to the commenter Sameer, I live in Sydney and can tell you that most Indian students are racist Punjabi’s including those that ran back home to their mummies.

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  • ABCI

    I live in Sydney and can tell you that most Indian students are racist Punjabi’s including those that ran back home to their mummies.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Babu-Rudeboy/100000323244832 Babu Rudeboy

    Yes Indians are most certainly racist. Gora and habshee and mooslims oh my! Most likely rooted in the self loathing stemming from the Raj as well as the EVIL varna (caste system).

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  • newsx

    Indians racist? What about Europeans who stole Indians’ money? What about turning India from the “Golden Bird” to developing country? What about European Imperialism that whites were superior? What about the sign “No Indians or dogs allowed” in public places in India? What about westerners who placed corrupt government in place while Europeans were leaving India? Racism? From more than 200 years India is poor because of your ancestors.

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  • newsx

    Dude, there was no racism until India was invaded by Europeans. Due to them, we lost self respect for ourselves and our culture. We are racist now unfortunately, but it is because of Europeans.

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  • Guest

    don’t speak anything until you about it.

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  • Guest

    Hyundai Eon is the all new small car by the Hyundai India specially designed to Indian people. Hyundai Eon will be a direct Competitor for Maruthi Alto, Chevrolet Spark and Brio. The Hyundai Eon On road Price will be inclusive of the Vehicle price, Road tax, Insurance and other charges. The Hyundai EON exterior and interiors are also superb.
    http://www.cardekho.com/carmodels/Hyundai/Hyundai_EON

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  • Bhavana Sharma

    Hyundai Eon is the new and small car by the Hyundai India specially designed to Indian people. It is a direct Competitor for Maruthi Alto, Chevrolet Spark and Brio. The Hyundai Eon On road Price will be inclusive of the Vehicle price, Road tax, Insurance and other charges. The Hyundai EON exterior and interiors are also superb. http://www.cardekho.com/carmodels/Hyundai/Hyundai_EON

    [Reply]