Hyundai India Will Double Production with New Plant

Company is targeting sales of 530,000 cars in India in 2008

The Indian arm of South Korean carmaker Hyundai said Nov. 1 it plans to boost car sales by two-thirds next year, using a new manufacturing plant to close the gap on market leader Suzuki.

Hyundai Motor India is targeting sales of 530,000 cars in India next year, up from its 320,000 target for this year, said Managing Director H.S. Lheem at a news conference in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. About half the production will be sold domestically and half exported, Lheem said after launching a new compact model.

Hyundai will have the capacity to double production in the country next year once a new plant in the southern city of Chennai becomes operational, said Arvind Saxena, vice president of sales. "It is in the process of being commissioned," Saxena said.

Hyundai, which launched its first car in India in 1998, is the country's second-biggest car producer after Maruti-Suzuki, majority-owned by the Japanese carmaker. Hyundai is India's biggest car exporter. In the year ended March 31, 2007, Hyundai Motor India posted a 19% growth in sales to 310,786 units.

Car sales growth in the country has slumped this year after banks tightened credit. In September, total vehicle sales dropped by nearly 10% to 889,693, hit by a credit squeeze, while car exports fell by more than 8% because of a rising rupee, according to industry data.

Carmakers are launching new models and offering discounts and freebies to tempt buyers in a country where 7% of cars sold are financed by bank credit.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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