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SEOUL:
After a lull, action is back in the compact car market. The auto turf may soon see rivalry intensifying between the Korean and American car <TABLE style="MARGIN-TOP: 6px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 8px" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=left><TBODY><TR><TD id=bellyad align=left></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>makers
Hyundai Motor is set to launch a diesel variant of its next-generation car, i10, to counter Ford’s Figo.

For the first time, Korean carmaker and India’s largest exporter, Hyundai, has conceded that Figo and not Nissan’s Micra will keep the company on its toes, a candid Hyundai Motor India (HMI) MD H W Park admitted to visiting journalists from India to the company headquarters here last week.

He was categorical that Hyundai was not duly concerned about Micra. However, it is directing efforts to counter competition challenges from Figo and domestic leader Maruti’s re-launched WagonR. He strongly hinted that Hyundai may launch the diesel variant of i10, though he did not specify the time-line.

Currently, the petrol version of the i10 is exported out of its Indian plant in Chennai, which has an annual capacity to produce 6 lakh cars. The models available to the sub-continent market are Atos, i10, i20, Getz (click), Verna (Accent) and Sonata (NF). Santa Fe, its mid-size crossover sports utility vehicle, will be introduced as a CBU (completely-built unit) during the fourth quarter of this year.

“We will launch one new model every year, one face-lifted version and a model year model,” he said, when asked about Hyundai’s plans. Sonata YF (Sedan), refurbished i20 and i10 models will hit the Indian market soon.

Asked specifically about Santro, he said Hyundai has been selling 8,000 units of this model every month. “Demand for Santro still exists,” he reiterated, adding there were no plans to phase it out.

It also plans to introduce a new car that will be positioned below the Santro. “Development of the sub-Santro model is at evaluation stage at Namyang (its R&D centre). We are on schedule as far as the development stage work is concerned,” he said.

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