NOTWITHSANDING rising fuel prices, the Korean car maker Hyundai has re- launched new version of Santro in India .It is called the brand new third generation Santro in India. Available with a petrol engine mated to either a manual or AMT gearbox and a CNG option, which is available only with a manual gearbox, the Santro targets a large section of the urban hatchback buying audience. The Hyundai Santro gets a 1.1-litre engine making 69 bhp of peak power and 99 Nm of peak torque in petrol guise or 59 bhp of peak power and 84 Nm of peak torque in CNG form. The ‘All New Santro’ as Hyundai is calling is priced from INR 3.89 lakh for the base D-Lite variant and goes up to INR 5.46 lakh for the automated manual transmission (AMT) .It offers a clutchless drive; Sportz variant. The new Santro which will sit above the Eon and below the Grand i10 in the Hyundai small car line-up is expected to compete with Maruti-Suzuki’s WagonR reigniting the old marketing conflict when Hyundai had launched the initial Santro and Maruti brought in the first-generation WagonR. The Santro will also go up against the Maruti-Suzuki Celerio and Tata Motors’ Tiago.
Hyundai Motors is hopeful that its new the new Santro will sell 10,000 units per monthly shortly. “We believe the prices of the new Santro are extremely competitive and with features that we are offering including a best-in-class modern AMT, touchscreen infotainment system and rear-parking camera, consumers will choose us over our rivals”, Hyundai Motor India, Managing Director, YK Koo told The Pioneer. To reinforce the brand, Hyundai also brought in the Santro’s initial brand-ambassador and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. “My association with Hyundai Motors is one of the longest associations in the world. I was very sad when Hyundai withdrew the Santro in 2014, but I am really excited about this new car”, Khan said, but added that he was yet to drive the car.While the new Santro will give a fillip to Hyundai’s sales, the company is struggling to cope with demand, especially for the extremely popular Creta SUV with manufacturing expansion plans put off yet again. According to Koo, additional demand will be met with process enhancements that will raise Hyundai’s annual production at their Sriperumbudur plant outside Chennai to higher than 750,000 units. Meanwhile, the Government proposes relaxing norms for setting up petrol pumps as it is keen on getting more private players into fuel retailing business for creation of job opportunities. The Oil Ministry has set up an expert committee to recommend as to how fuel retailing licensing rules can be eased. Officials say presently to obtain a fuel retailing licence, a company needs to invest Rs 2,000 crore in either hydrocarbon exploration and production, refining, pipelines or liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. Interested parties are unable to mobilize such a vast amount .The expert committee is mandated to “look at various issues related to the implementation of existing guidelines for grant of marketing authorisation of market fuels – petrol, diesel and aviation turbine fuel (ATF),” it said.Noted economist Kirit Parikh, former oil secretary G C Chaturvedi, former Indian Oil Corp (IOC) chairman and IIM Ahmedabad Director M A Pathan are among the members of the experts” committee. It has been asked to furnish its report within 60 days after due consultations with stakeholders. State-owned oil marketing companies — Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), currently own most of 63,498 petrol pumps in the country. Reliance Industries, Nayara Energy — formerly Essar Oil and Royal Dutch Shell are the private players in the market but with limited presence. Reliance, which operates the world’s largest oil refining complex, has less than 1,400 outlets.Nayara has 4,833 while Shell has just 114 pumps. BP plc of UK had a couple of years back secured a licence to set up 3,500 pumps but hasn’t yet started doing so. Last week, French energy giant Total in a joint venture with Adani Group announced plans to set up 1,500 petrol pumps in the next 10 years.(inputs from the Pioneer).