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Hyundai to export India-made Creta to cash in on SUV demand

Managing Director and CEO, Hyundai Motors India limited, B S Seo poses during the launch of the Hyundai Creta in New Delhi on July 21, 2015.

[NEW DELHI] South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co will export its India-made Creta sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to markets elsewhere in Asia and beyond, aiming to tap booming demand for all-terrain cars and boost global sales, a top executive said.

Launching its first SUV in India, Hyundai said it would export the car to markets including Latin America, the Middle East and Africa starting this year, according to Byungkwon Rhim, senior vice president at Hyundai's international sales division.

"Our global sales network and channel partners are strongly demanding for Creta launching in their countries. This will create new additional sales globally," Mr Rhim said.

Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors Corp, together the world's fifth largest automaker by sales, expect to sell 8.2 million vehicles in 2015 - a 2.5 per cent increase from a year ago, its lowest growth since 2003.

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While rival automakers have made the most of the SUV boom, spurred in part by cheaper fuel, Hyundai has grappled with a lack of production capacity and absence of new models in the segment - a gap it is looking to fill quickly.

Hyundai has said it is considering boosting production capacity in the United States and is building its fifth plant in China to keep up with demand for SUVs.

Hyundai, India's second-largest carmaker by sales and largest exporter, plans to ship up to 13,000 compact Creta SUVs outside India in 2015. It did not commit to a future target, but executives said it would also need to meet Indian demand.

India's car market, the world's sixth largest, is expected to grow to number three by 2020 as incomes rise.

Compact SUV sales in India are likely to more than quadruple to 970,000 vehicles in the decade to 2020, according to consultant IHS Automotive, which expects 550,000 such vehicles to be sold in the country in 2015.

Hyundai, which can produce a maximum of 680,000 vehicles across its two plants in India, plans to increase domestic sales by 17 per cent to 480,000 vehicles in 2015 from a year ago, said BS Seo, managing director of Hyundai's local unit.

That is an increase on a previous 2015 target of 465,000 vehicles, lifted by the Creta, though a lack of capacity and no immediate expansion plans could limit exports.

The company said it was waiting for more clarity on the land acquisition bill, the roll out of a single, nationwide tax and new labour reforms before making a decision on a new plant.

The compact SUV will be priced from 860,000 rupees for the petrol variant in New Delhi - similar to rivals Renault and utility vehicle market leader Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.