Hyundai Motor India has shipped its first batch of 2,820 i20 hatchbacks to Europe from the port at Chennai.

Europe accounts for almost 50% of the company’s total exports and the first i20s are on their way to the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Austria, Croatia, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Hungary, the Hindustan Times said.

The i20 will be launched in India by the end of this year.

“In line with Hyundai India’s positioning as the global export hub for compact cars, we recently started the third shift of operations to meet the anticipated demand,” said local Hyundai managing director HS Lheem.

Although Lheem has been bullish on export goals – Hyundai also plans to ship engines from India soon – the automaker recently told the Economic Times of India that global economic slowdown had forced it to put up to 25% of its export orders on hold.

It has shelved US market plans for the i10 due to homologation issues but is nonetheless eyeing other new markets such as Australia and New Zealand.

“Many dealers from our major markets like South Africa, Colombia and Iceland have asked us to put on hold shipments. They have not given us any time when they would like to pick up the orders,” Lheem said.