What is the way forward for the Hyundai i10
We may as well want to believe at times that the market for cars is always getting bigger and to fill that gap you need new cars. The more the better. But it does not quite work that way. Just that the slowdown such as the one we are witnessing right now only highlights that every car howsoever successful has a shelf life. And every new car that hits the market invariably in some way hastens the death of another ageing warhorse.
So when Hyundai launched the unimaginatively coined Grand i10 on Tuesday, I wonder what would happen to the i10. It is a trifle ironical that when the i10 came into being in November 2007, I had similar thoughts about the Santro then. Though it replaced the latter globally, Santro lived on and is destined to carry on for a few more years before emissions norms spell the end of the road for it.
The i10 may not be as lucky. For one, it is not as inexpensive as the Santro. With a starting price tag of Rs 3.76 lakh, it is in no way a cheap car. The Grand i10 with a starting price of Rs 4.29 lakh, is barely Rs 50,000 dearer. For that you get a bigger engine, refreshed interiors and even without the rear air con vents, more features. And it is also a newer car to boot.
Further, what worked for the Santro, does not quite work for the i10. With a life span of just 6 years so far, it does not have the brand equity as the Santro, which was almost a decade old when the i10 was launched. It was already established as a durable spacious and peppy small car abd after the launch of i10, Hyundai positioned the Santro lower to cater to the lower middle class where price and value for money counts more than jazz and bling.
The i10 enjoys no such buffer. The lack of a diesel engine has already dented its future propsects and sales have been steadily falling. Last year, it found less than 100,000 customers for a full year. As a more aspirational product, its competition with Grand i10 is more direct. Sensing that, the company has already discontinued the 1.2 litre Kappa2 engine in the car. There is surely some juice left in the brand yet but perhaps, it is a case of winding down the clock when the curtains fall on the existing model too.