Hyundai Motor India on Monday is shipping its first Getz models to Europe.

The move follows several years of successful export production of the smaller Santro (exported as the Atos Prime).

Speaking to The Times of India at the Sriperumbudur plant of the company, HMIL managing director HS Lheem said that the automaker would ship 40,000 units of the Getz compact hatchback to Europe this year, beginning with Germany.

An official HMIL press release said the Getz has sold more than 500,000 units in Europe, accounting for close to 70% of its total sales worldwide, since launch in 2002.

The release added that Hyundai Motor India started exports in 1999 with the first shipment of 20 Santros to neighbouring Nepal. Since then it has become the second largest automaker in India and the largest exporter of passenger cars – it now exports to 67 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Middle East. Last year HMI exported around 113,000 units and by end of 2008 it plans an estimated 300,000 units.

The Santro and the Accent are the most popular HMIL export models. The Santro is sent to Europe, Africa, Middle East & Latin America and the goes to Morocco, Algeria and Sri Lanka, among other markets.

A Hyundai Europe spokesman confirmed to just-auto the switch of Getz source and added that Hyundai Europe would source “volume models” from its own plant in Europe from 2009, thus reducing shipping costs of finished vehicles.

The Times report said HMIL would make three engine variants (1.1 and 1.3 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel) for the European market Getz.

“Going by the current indication, we (HMIL) will soon be the hub for all small car exports for Hyundai. I think, by end next year, that should become a reality,” Lheem told The Times of India.

Detailing the export strategy, he said that 70,000 Santro Xing, 25,000 Accent (mostly for Egypt, Algeria and Morocco) and 40,000 Getz will be made in the Indian plant and will be exported to other parts of the globe.

Also planned are a diesel version of the Getz for the domestic market in the second half of this year and a Santro ‘twin’ called PA (slated for launch later this year).

“The new compact car – codenamed PA – will be made from the upcoming second plant. The commercial production will start in October,” Lheem told The Times of India.