A print media campaign by Hyundai India for its Elantra has raised a controversy. The campaign compares the Elantra and its closest rivals, the Chevrolet Optra and the Toyota Corolla, with Hyundai alleging that GM and Toyota sell their respective offerings in India with different safety specifications than in the international versions.

The new campaign includes graphics which show the Elantra performing better than the Corolla in a number of criteria, including traction control and braking.

Hyundai rejects the speculation that the new ads could create a controversy, especially because the Corolla has been explicitly named. Sanjeev Shukla, marketing manager of Hyundai Motors India, said:  “We have done so on the basis of features of the two cars and on facts. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, we are not poking fun at our rivals.”

In its latest print campaign, Hyundai says the Elantra has the same safety features in both the US and India and has received a five star rating from the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Both GM and Toyota have come out strongly against the campaign. Toyota Kirloskar Motor officials said that the Corolla’s growing sales (touching 1,000 in July) show customers’ confidence in the car. They added that Corolla in India meets far stricter safety norms than demanded in the US and is certified for ‘offset frontal crash’ by the European New Crash Assessment Programme (NCAP).

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The company said the Corolla was introduced in India after evaluating local road conditions and meets the safety norms of the country.

GM India said that the European NCAP rates the Optra with four stars because it uses 40% high strength steel while the Elantra gets only three stars because its platform is old. The company also said the Optra uses a three-point engine mounting system for superior ride and handling quality, compared to the Elantra’s conventional mounting system.

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup