Hyundai Motor regrets, others remain silent on anti-India statement

Chennai, Feb 8 : Korean automotive giant Hyundai Motor Company on Tuesday expressed regret to Indian people for the hurt caused by the unofficial social media post by its dealer in Pakistan.

However, several other major automotive companies having operations in India remain silent on the similar issue.

In a message on Hyundai Motor India Ltd’s handle, the Korean company said: “We deeply regret any offense caused to the people of India by this unofficial social media activity.”

Hyundai Motor said as a business policy it does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region.

The independently owned Hyundai distributor in Pakistan’s tweet is against Hyundai Motor’s policy.

“We have since taken measures to ensure the distributor, which misused the Hyundai brand identity, has removed the social media posts and we have put in place processes to prevent a future reoccurrence,” Hyundai Motor said.

It all started on February 5 with a tweet from the Twitter handle Hyundai Pakistan Official that read: “Let us remember the sacrifices of our Kashmiri brothers and stand in support as they continue to struggle for freedom.”

India’s neighbour Pakistan observes February 5 as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ as a mark of its support to the so-called ‘separatist’ movement in Kashmir.

Soon social media users started forwarding the controversial post and also tagged it to Hyundai Motor India’s Twitter account with their comments and a call for boycotting the car maker’s models.

On its part, Hyundai Motor India started blocking those social media accounts and later came out with a statement.

“The unsolicited social media post linking Hyundai Motor India is offending our unparalleled commitment and service to this great country. India is second home to the Hyundai brand and we have zero tolerance policy towards insensitive communication and we strongly condemn any such view,” Hyundai Motor India tweeted.

Continuing further Hyundai Motor India said: “As part of our commitment to India, we will continue our efforts towards the betterment of the country as well as its citizens.”

The United Union of Hyundai Employees (UUHE), the worker’s union at Hyundai Motor India condemning the anti-India tweet by a Hyundai dealer in Pakistan had also urged the company to get a clarification from the Korean parent.

With the boycott call for Hyundai Motor vehicles, the workers were concerned as this would affect their future.

A senior official of Hyundai Motor India preferring anonymity told IANS that Pakistani dealers of several other multinational companies – Suzuki, Isuzu, Bosch Pharmaceuticals, FAW Trucks, Honda, Daewoo Express, Toyota, Domino’s Pizza- too had posted similar anti-Indian messages on the social media.

“But why Hyundai Motor India alone was singled out and criticised. We are contributing to the community and have invested and invested a huge amount, providing employment to thousands,” the official bemoaned and does not rule out corporate rivalry.

At a larger level, this sort of a campaign may also destabilise the operations of multinational companies in India, the official added.

Meanwhile Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, told IANS that the social media campaign against Hyundai Motor India and Kia will be a temporary blip.

“The brands can expect initial cancellations of orders, but then, public memory is proverbially, and really, short. In the short term competing brands can ramp up on scurrying to get a piece of the cancelled bookings space. But this is short term. It will be business as usual for Hyundai, sooner than later,” Bijoor added.

India is a major production and sales market for Hyundai. The company has a capacity to make 7.5 lakh cars at its plant near here.

The company also ships out its cars to various overseas markets.

Group company Kia has its facility in Andhra Pradesh.