Hyundai Motor Co. has introduced the Eon hatchback in India, the cheapest model it has offered in the country so far. Hyundai, which is on track to be the most profitable Asian automaker this year, is intensifying its campaign to weaken Suzuki Motor Corp.’s dominance in India’s automobile market. The Eon has a starting price of 269,999 rupees ($5,496).
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which produces the top-selling Alto car priced from 235,413 rupees, has recently unveiled a new version of this model with features like leather seats and an upgraded audio system.
The worldwide market share of Hyundai has widened this year, at the expense of Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. amid the impact of the March 11 earthquake on its operations, supply, and sales. The launch of the Eon puts the pressure on Maruti Suzuki, whose share in India has fallen due to competition and a labor strike. Deepesh Rathore, the head of IHS Automotive, said that the Eon will be Maruti’s “biggest headache.”
At the close in Mumbai trading, Maruti fell 2.5% to 1,058.25 rupees, the lowest point since July 2009. On the other hand, Hyundai climbed 2.2% to 212,000 won, its highest since Aug. 3, in Seoul. At a press conference in New Delhi, Arvind Saxena, Hyundai’s India director for sales and marketing, said that Hyundai is expected to achieve annual sales of 140,000 to 150,000 Eon cars. Hyundai is headed by Chairman Chung Mong-Koo.