It is no secret that Hyundai is working on an affordable electric car (priced below Rs 10 lakh) for a launch in India in about 2 years, and sticking to the current trend, it could very well be that the first member of the ‘Smart EV’ project is a compact electric crossover-SUV.
Hyundai has already launched its first EV in India with the Kona SUV that has received a fairly decent response and provided plenty of insight into consumer behaviour. EVW spoke to Hyundai’s Director of Sales, Marketing and Service, Mr Tarun Garg at the Auto Expo 2020. Responding to a question we posed: wouldn’t it be obvious that the affordable EV would be in the trending SUV body style, targeting the aspirational urban buyer who perceives SUVs as a premium vehicle, Garg, without confirming the shape, responded:
“Our Kona is already an SUV and yes the current trend is moving towards SUV. At the same time, we are still studying the market; the Indian market is very big and there are preferences for many body types. We definitely have leadership in SUV but as a complete carmaker, we have to look at each and every segment and try to take an opportunity wherever it exists. This is how we look at the market. Our engineers are working on the technology part, and we would really like to give a product where we can get into the consideration set of the customers who says yes I really want to buy an EV, I can afford it, drive it and do well for the environment.”
From web reports, Hyundai India’s model map has 5 ICE-powered SUVs in the next couple of years. Starting with the new Hyundai Creta showcased at the expo, Hyundai plans to launch a Creta Plus variant with third row seating next year. Reports also say that Hyundai will manufacture the next-gen Tucson in India with plans for a +2 seating variant as its flagship SUV. Finally there is the Hyundai AX (codename) crossover at the base, positioned below the Venue, taking on the Mahindra KUV100 (that now has an EV variant), Maruti Ignis and the Tata HBX/Hornbill that is also coming in an electric version. With such a strong SUV product line, it would be unrealistic to think that an e-SUV is not the way forward.
Hyundai also showcased the Nexo fuel cell electric vehicle at the Auto Expo 2020. The Nexo is powered by a 95kW fuel cell stack and 40 kW Lithium-ion battery with a total output of 135 kW and 395 Nm torque. The car can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 179 km/h. It takes 5 minutes to fill the hydrogen tanks of the Nexo and the car has a range of 600 km/fill.