SS Kim, Managing Director of Hyundai Motor India, tells Murali Gopalan in this email interview that suppliers will be nurtured to supply electric vehicle parts to global operations. Hydrogen could also become an important option going forward.
How is Hyundai planning to get the Chennai plant ready for the electric transformation?
Over the last two-and-a-half decades, Hyundai Motor India has been fuelling the Make-in-India movement by leading the automotive industry with excellence in manufacturing. Aligning with the Government’s vision of electrification, Hyundai has worked towards the development of a concrete battery electric vehicle (BEV) roadmap that will breathe life into the electrification ecosystem in India while focusing on localisation of manufacturing synergies for BEVs. Moreover, our state-of-the art facility is future-ready for integration of new model(s).
Do you anticipate a challenge handling different production lines of diesel, gasoline, CNG/LPG and electric?
Our manufacturing facility in Sriperumbudur near Chennai has a production capacity of 750,000 units per annum and already manufactures passenger vehicles running on diesel, gasoline and CNG/LPG. Our production lines are future-ready and designed to be flexible and so is our vendor base which supplies us with various components and modules for powertrains and other requirements. The Hyundai Kona EV is assembled locally as well. So, the plant is primed for integrating upcoming battery electric vehicles in its future manufacturing plans.
Does Hyundai also plan to go in for an extensive skill building exercise in preparation for electric vehicles?
The personnel at the shopfloor are highly trained and the current manpower is especially skilled. The same set of personnel is equipped to work on EV assembly lines, with the coming of the new E-GMP platform in the future. There will be skill development sessions organised in order to equip our colleagues with the required skill-set and knowledge for executing seamless manufacturing SOPs for the new range of battery electric vehicles for the Indian market.
Headquarters in South Korea had announced a vision roadmap for hydrogen. Will India be part of this plan too?
It was in September 2021 that Hyundai Motor Company unveiled its vision for ‘Hydrogen Energy Shift’. The three pillars of our hydrogen business are scalability, economic efficiency, and eco-friendliness and our goal is to popularise hydrogen as a widely used source of energy. Hyundai Motor Company has the world’s most advanced hydrogen fuel cell technology which underpins our future-ready FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) model line-up that is sold in various markets.
Having said that, we need to consider not only governmental regulations but also variables such as technology implementation, consumer demand and most importantly, availability of infrastructure to support hydrogen movement. In markets which support FCEVs, we have a strong presence and when the time comes, we will be ready with our state-of-the-art FCEV products for the Indian market.
Hyundai Motor India believes that electric vehicles are slowly becoming mainstream and the fact that EVs form less than one percent of total passenger vehicles proves that India has a huge potential for the expansion of the EV segment.
This is where Hyundai Motor India aims to have leadership in terms of product, technology and infrastructure for the future. Our current focus will be on a sustainable electrification strategy for India.
The E-GMP will underpin Hyundai Motor Group’s plans to introduce a total of 23 BEV models including 11 dedicated BEV models, and sell more than 1 million BEVs worldwide by 2025. Six models have been outlined for India, by 2028.
Will the electric platform also include production of Kia models?
The E-GMP or electric-global modular platform was introduced by the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) as a dedicated EV platform for its next-generation of battery electric vehicle line-ups. In order to achieve cost-competitiveness and economies of scale, the E-GMP technology will be available to all passenger vehicle manufacturing companies under the HMG umbrella. This will help in boosting sales of BEVs and create a strong impact in the EV market which in turn will lead to increased adoption of EVs.
Can we expect Hyderabad R&D to play a big role in this effort? Could you elaborate on the likely collaboration with HQ in South Korea?
Hyundai Motor Company has a strong global R&D. In its commitment to provide customers with cutting-edge global technology, Hyundai Motor India has a modern R&D facility in Hyderabad. For new models (including EVs) that are India-specific, the HMI R&D will have a very important role to play for the same. Similarly, for global models that will be introduced in India, HMC’s global R&D takes the lead.
Our R&D centre endeavours to be a centre of excellence in automobile engineering. There will be effective synergies between HQ in Korea and HMIL on the implementation of the EV roadmap laid out for India with respect to rolling out six world-class BEVs over the next seven years in the country.
Will the extensive plans for localisation also enable India to supply electric components to other Hyundai operations?
Hyundai Motor India has a strong network of vendors and suppliers — few components that HMI manufactures are very competitive for international markets. Localisation will play an extremely important role going forward with new EV launches on the anvil. With a view to nurturing HMI’s current base of suppliers, the company will aim to become a hub for EV components for global markets — especially once the start of production (SOP) of EVs is underway.
Finally, can we expect Hyundai to look for a new facility in India as part of this expansion program?
Presently, HMIL’s manufacturing facility in Sriperumbudur has an annual production capacity of 750,000 units per annum, which boasts of advanced production, quality, and testing capabilities. With the implementation of Smart Manufacturing 4.0 practices, our plant focuses on digitalisation, big data and data analytics to manufacture superior and zero-defect cars. The assembly lines are flexible and programmed to accommodate new models which include EVs as well. As regards setting up a new facility, HMIL will evaluate all options depending on the changing business environment and macroeconomic indicators.
This interview was first published in Autocar Professional's December 15, 2021 magazine edition