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INTERVIEW | RUPESH SHARMA BHATTA : G.M. AT LAXMI INTERCONTINENTAL Pvt. Ltd.

RUPESHHyundai isn’t a new name in the market, and almost every one has heard of the brand. It has created a reputation for itself by giving its customers the best experience that they can get and it seems to be pretty evident that they have been doing well in the auto industry. Even just recently, at this year’s NADA, we saw Hyundai take a new step forward by introducing their first electric vehicle, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. So, we decided to sit down with Mr. Rupesh Sharma Bhatta, General Manager at Laxmi InterContinental Pvt. Ltd. and talk about how the market scenario has been for Hyundai at the moment and what we can expect from the brand. So, let’s see what he has to say about it.

AS OF RECENTLY, HOW HAS THE MARKET SCENARIO BEEN FOR HYUNDAI?
Compared to last year, the market scenario has been better for Hyundai up until now. But with recent change in the bank financing regulation which states that there will only be 50% financing, the sales have been slowing down. It isn’t per say getting really slow but the shift from 65% to 50% has led the customers to be a little hesitant with the down payments. Because of this, not only is Hyundai being affected but the whole automobile industry is facing this scenario. Even though we haven’t seen the full effect of the change but we are assuming that it will start showing soon. But overall, we feel that the scenario has been better compared to last year in terms of sales in the automobile industry and not only Hyundai.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAIN GOALS FOR HYUNDAI AT THE MOMENT? HOW HAS THE BRAND BEEN GROWING IN THE NEPALESE MARKET?
Our goal has always been to keep customer satisfaction at the highest level. In accordance to that, we have been importing quality products to cater to the needs of our customers. So, we have products in every segment, ranging from Eon to Santa Fe to give the customers a variety choose from and give them something that matches their needs. Other than that, we have always been focusing on after sales service and we just don’t give dealerships to showroom, they need to have 3S service facility in order to get the dealership. Now talking about Hyundai as a brand started out in 1998 and was only operational since the early 2000s. And as of today, if we think about Hyundai, it is one of the top automobile brands that comes to your mind. We have been able to reach here through the years but we aren’t going to just stop there, we always strive to maintain the same level and even progress through it.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM HYUNDAI IN THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHES AND BRAND EXPANSIONS?
We just launched the Ioniq electric recently and we are looking to get into the electric vehicle segment. So, with that in mind, we shall be bringing in another electric vehicle, Kona, which will most probably be launched at the end of January. Apart from that, we had planned to launch the Santro this year itself, but because of the overwhelming response it got in the Indian market and the growing demand there, the launch has been delaying. We are still working on it and following up so that we can launch it by the end of December or mid of January. Another much awaited vehicle is a new concept called Carlino which is going to be a sub-compact SUV. We will most probably be launching it during mid-2019. We believe that these will boost our sales and market shares from a different perspective.

RUPESHALSO, WITH INTRODUCTION OF THE NEW HYUNDAI TUCSON, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FROM THE VEHICLE AND HOW HAVE YOU PLANNED TO POSITION IT IN THE MARKET? The Tucson is something we had since 2005-2006 and it has been doing good in the SUV segment. With a new and updated variant of the Tucson, we want to increase our share in the small volume of the premium SUV segment because in recent years the sales in this segment has been slow. But the facelifted version, we plan to position it in a different way so that it can furthermore strengthen the brand which its predecessors have created by catering to needs of the customers with the updated features. So, we expect that the new Tucson will do exactly that in the full-sized SUV segment.

HOW MUCH OF THE MARKET SHARE ARE YOU PLANNING TO CAPTURE WITH THE NEW TUCSON? AND WHAT KIND OF APPROACH ARE YOU TAKING IN TERMS OF MARKETING THE VEHICLE?
Just as mentioned earlier, the segment Just as mentioned earlier, the segment is not that big for full-sized SUVs. But with the introduction of compact and sub-compact SUVs the total SUVs shares is somewhere around 46-47% in the industry. So, the major chunk comes from compacts and sub-compacts whereas full-sized SUV make up only a small fraction of this share. With the Tucson, our expectations are to capture 20-25% of this market segment. In terms of marketing, we will be focusing more on awareness, be it with social media, videos or various other campaigns. We are planning various activities in line with the same and we are even planning give customized service to the customers which is like rather than customers coming to us for services, we go to them. With Tucson’s price range, the customers would also be of a higher level so we want to enhance that network with our customers.

HOW HAVE YOU PLANNED TO GO ON ABOUT THE AFTER SALES SERVICE OF THE VEHICLE?
As for the after sales service, not only Tucson but all the vehicles that we bring in, we make sure that we have all the resources required to service the vehicles. We have our manpower well equipped and trained even before the vehicle arrives. We either send our staff for training or call people in to train our staffs so that we can provide the best service. We really concentrate on our training and development so all of it is all taken care of.

FINALLY, AS FOR DEALERSHIP NETWORKS, HOW HAVE YOU PLANNED TO GO ABOUT EXPANDING IT? Right now, outside of the valley, we are already in some of the major markets and we are planning to expand to reach newer markets this year. We are not going to rush into it because we need to follow certain guidelines and we want focus a lot on customer experience. Even worldwide, the philosophy of Hyundai is to provide the same experience anywhere you go so, we want to do same with all of our dealer networks. We want our customers to experience the same kind of service no matter of the dealership they visit and our main objective is to maintain this standard.

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