Hyundai to introduce an India-focused electric micro SUV

Hyundai could launch a new electric micro SUV in India. The new model will be different from the Inster (Casper EV), tailored to the specific needs of customers in the emerging nation.

Image: Hyundai

Hyundai plans to introduce a new EV codenamed ‘HE1i’ that competes with the Tata Punch.ev in India, according to a new report by Autocar Professional. The South Korean automaker is evaluating a pure variant of the Venue small SUV and the Grand i10 Nios city car as well.

Hyundai won’t derive HE1i from the petrol-powered Exter (codename: AI3 SUV) or the all-electric Inster (codename: AX EV) either, as the different chassis code indicates. The company will reportedly build the upcoming EV on a born-electric car platform based on the E-GMP (K) platform and likely offer it with two battery pack choices.

Hyundai plans to manufacture the HE1i at its plant in Sriperumbudur (Tamil Nadu) in the southern part of India, where it is targeting an annual output of 65,000 units, including a sizeable chunk for export markets. The South Korean automaker will purchase the HE1i’s cells from local supplier Exide Energy Solutions Limited (EESL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Exide Industries.

Hyundai plans to source LFP prismatic cells from EESL, MD and CEO Arun Mittal said during Exide Industries’ Q4 FY2024 earnings conference call. EESL is building India’s first giga battery cell plant with an annual production capacity of 12 GWh in Bengaluru (Karnataka), about 300 km east of Hyundai’s auto plant. The company will operate at 50% capacity in the first year – 2025, and divide the output equally between NCM and LFP cells. Hyundai hasn’t specified whether it intends to procure NCM cells also from EESL, though.

The report suggests that Hyundai will offer certain design elements of the Inster in the HE1i. The former comes with pixel-graphic dual-function lights in the front and rear, hidden rear door handles, and 17-inch four-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, the company offers features like features like a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a heated steering wheel with pixel-themed graphics, and heated seats.

Hyundai plans to sell the Inster in many markets around the world, including countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. It may not find all of its features necessary for Indian customers and may skip some in the HE1i to make it more affordable. Consider, the heating function for the seats and steering wheel, for instance. Additionally, the company could downgrade in case of some equipment, such as the instrument cluster.

Hyundai plans to launch the HE1i by 2026 and will likely price it close to the Tata Punch.ev, which costs ₹10,98,999 or roughly €12,000 in the base trim. Before that, it will release a pure electric variant of its best-selling model in India – the Creta, in January 2025.


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