Hyundai Motor Co has added a third shift in a plant in southern India to raise production of its i10 hatchback, the company said, as part of a plan to make India its global manufacturing hub for small cars.

Hyundai, South Korea’s top automaker, has sold about 172,000 units of the i10 since its launch in October 2007, and the output at its new plant near Chennai would be stepped up to meet local and overseas demand. The plant, with a capacity of 300,000 units, started operations in February and is dedicated largely to the i10. Production of the compact car now stands at 1,300 units a day, a 40 per cent rise after the third shift began.

“The introduction of the new shift will (help) us meet demand and help us capture a bigger share of the market,” Hyundai Motor India’s managing director, H.S. Lheem, said. Hyundai aims to reach a production target of 530,000 units by end-2008, with exports to around 95 countries.