Seon Seob Kim is the President, MD and CEO of Hyundai Motor India.A keen strategist with 27 years of diversified global experience, S. S. Kimhas worked in different markets. BE’s Nikhil Raghavan spoke to him at the launch of Kona Electric, Hyundai’s new electric SUV.
Q. What is the strategy behind Kona Electric?
A. The Indian automotive policy has shown amarked shift towards electric vehicles. We have in our international portfolio an ideal vehicle to cater to Indian car users and Kona Electric is the perfect fit here. To start with,we will be importing or assembling them as wedo not expect large quantities to be sold. Currently, a product like this is still considered a niche model and priced at Rs.25 lakh plus. After the announcement and launch, we have received bookings of 120 cars.
Q. What about the infrastructure for charging?
A. While we do have kits, which can be bought individually for home use or installed by commercial establishments for quick or over-night charging, we are awaiting government policies on this, where public utilities like gas stations and service centres can install them.
Q. Why is the cost of the vehicle so high?
A. The most expensive item is the battery, which is imported. Till such time battery manufacturing starts in the country and reach large production capacities, the cost will be high.
We are already talking to many of our existing suppliers for parts, both mechanical and electric/electronic. I am confident that once all these fall in place, the costs will come down.
Q. How do you find the Indian automotive market?
A. I have taken charge of HMIL in December 2018 and since then I have made it a point to tour and study as many markets as possible. India is a diverse country and each state is different from the other. Even our model and variant preferences change from state to state. Government policies are also different in each state. It is achallenge for us but as a company we have succeeded in meeting all these challenges head on.
Q. What are your strategies for the Indian market?
A. We do have a large presence in the small car market, and we are making a major headway in the SUV market with Creta and Venue. For the Venue, we have received over 50,000 bookings and have so far delivered more than 50% of that. I would like Hyundai to be a premium value car maker.