Hyundai has ended the production of its entry-level Santro hatchback at its Tamil Nadu plant. Launched first in 1998, it was the Santro that introduced the Korean carmaker to the Indian customer. The first-gen model was on sale till 2014; four years later, Hyundai brought back the Santro as an Eon replacement.
- Hyundai Santro goes off-shelf for the second time
- Around 1.5 lakh units of the Santro sold since 2018
- FY2022 sales averaged at just around 2,000 units
Hyundai Santro: What really went wrong?
Hyundai reintroduced the Santro in 2018 at a starting price of around Rs 3.9 lakh, going upto Rs 5.5 lakh for the top variant. At launch, the Santro had fresh design cues and was even sold with a CNG option for its 1.1-litre petrol engine. Hyundai positioned the Santro at the higher end of the budget segment offering features like rear AC vents and a touchscreen. But the car still lacked a few basic features like intermittent windshield wipers in all variants.
The entry-level variant of the Santro was pricey for what it offered. It even lacked a factory-fitted AC at that price point. Plus, the Santro’s higher variants, at launch, were priced above the entry-level variants of the now-discontinued Grand i10, which was more spacious and came with a more powerful 1.2-litre engine.
In 2019, Hyundai even looked at repositioning the Santro’s lower variants to take on the entry-level hatchback segment rivals, including stalwarts like the Alto and the 800cc Renault Kwid. But the advent of the stringent BS6 norms resulted in higher input costs translating into even higher retail prices.
Sales for the Santro peaked initially, but since then it has mostly been on a downslide and customer interest has been dwindling away from Hyundai’s entry-level offering. Also, the shifting consumer trend towards SUVs or SUV-like high-riding vehicles could be one of the reasons for the Santro’s demise. Maruti Suzuki gauged this trend much earlier and replaced its slow-selling Alto K10 with the S-Presso high-riding hatchback that presented SUV-like styling cues. Sales of the S-Presso stood at around 67,000 units in FY2022, which averages to around 5,500 units a month. Meanwhile, Santro's sales for FY2022 averaged at just around 2,000 units a month.
Also, the recent government order on the mandatory fitment of six airbags could be another nail in the Santro’s coffin as Hyundai will have to re-engineer the car to meet the requirements, and the additional costs would simply not justify the car’s positioning. Additionally, with upcoming BS6.2 emission norms, upgrading the 1.1-litre engine, which is only available on the Santro, won’t be financially justifiable.
Hyundai’s entry-level vehicle for India: What’s next?
Thanks to the demise of the Santro, the Grand i10 Nios will be Hyundai’s entry-level model for India for now. The hatchback starts at Rs 5.39 lakh (ex-showroom). There are talks of Hyundai introducing a micro-SUV under the Venue (also due for a facelift soon), which, with its high riding character, could be the future Santro of SUVs.
What are your thoughts on Hyundai discontinuing the Santro in India? Let us know in the comments below.