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Hyundai all set to ship Santro to Mexico

N. Ramakrishnan

Chennai , March 11

HYUNDAI Motor India is all set to export its best-selling car, Santro, to Mexico. In Mexico, the Santro will be badged as Dodge Atos.

Dodge as a brand belongs to DaimlerChrysler, which has a 10 per cent stake in Hyundai Motor India's parent, Hyundai Motor Company of Korea.

A small batch of cars has been shipped and a bigger consignment, of about 1,000 cars, will be shipped shortly, according to company officials.

Hyundai Motor India manufactures the Santro at its plant at Irungattukottai, about 45 km from here. It began exports of the Santro - badged as Atos Prime - to Europe in August last. After Mexico, Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) hopes to export the Santro to Panama, according to the officials.

Unlike its exports to Europe where the Santros are being sold by Hyundai, HMIL decided to export to Mexico through DaimlerChrysler because of the import policy followed in Mexico, according to industry sources. Mexico has granted sales rights on automobile imports to companies that have operations in the country.

In a response sent by e-mail to Business Line, Mr Benjamin Vital of DaimlerChrysler Mexico, said the company would sell Dodge Atos imported from India from mid-2004. It has been importing the car from Korea so far. DaimlerChrysler started selling the Atos in Mexico during 2000.

Two models of the Atos are on sale in Mexico - Atos Basic and Atos Luxury. Atos Basic costs Pesos 70,585 (about Rs 2.8 lakh) and Atos Luxury Pesos 86,195 (Rs 3.4 lakh), according to information available on DamilerChrysler's Web site.

In response to questions, Mr Vital said the sub-compact segment where the Atos is positioned is about 5,00,000 units a year, making up over 60 per cent of the total Mexican automobile industry. DaimlerChrysler hopes to sell about 17,000 units of the Atos a year.

He said that the Atos faces competition from a number of cars, including Matiz, Palio, Corsa and Chevrolet, all of which are sold by General Motors; Fiesta and Ka from Ford; Polo, Golf, Lupo and Derby from Volkswagen; Ibiza and Cordoba from Seat, a Volkswagen subsidiary; Peugeot 206; Yaris from Toyota; and some models from Nissan.

Exporting to Mexico, considered a tough automobile market, will be another landmark for HMIL. The company hopes to export a total of 65,000 to 70,000 cars in 2004 against 30,000 last year. By 2006, HMIL hopes to export 80,000 cars, with more than 50 per cent going to Europe. Hyundai Motor India will expand capacity to 250,000 units a year by August 2004. Ultimately, the company plans to export a third of its total production, company officials had told journalists when it flagged off exports to Europe.

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