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We aim to attain full capacity at our plant by 2022: Tae-Jin Park, CSO of Kia Motors

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on October 30, 2020 Published on October 29, 2020

Tae-Jin Park, Executive Director & Chief Sales Officer, Kia Motors India

 

 

South Korean auto maker Kia Motors, a recent entrant into the Indian car market, has scripted an impressive story with its game-changing products. Thanks to the overwhelming response to its two SUVs, the company has emerged as a strong player in the SUV market in a short period. Tae-Jin Park, Executive Director & Chief Sales Officer - Kia Motors India, spoke to BusinessLine about the products, its success and associated plans. Edited excerpts:

What is the latest booking number for your compact SUV Sonet?

Kia

Sonet comes in the high-volume segment for us, and the response has been encouraging, as seen by the overwhelming 50,000 plus bookings received in just two months of the pre-booking commencement. We despatched 9,266 units in September. On an average we get two orders every three minutes.

Also read: Kia Sonet receives over 50,000 bookings

What are the key factors that helped attract record bookings for Sonet?

Kia believes that design gives a distinctive spirit to the brand and instils soul into the product, resulting in garnering customers’ trust. Sonet features a bold and dynamic look, along with technological advancements. It comes with multiple powertrain options to suit virtually all requirements in this segment. We have been receiving staggering booking numbers for its wide variants, which depicts how customers understand and appreciate the choices offered. It also offers technological developments such as diesel automatic and iMT that offer different experiences of driving and owning a car. Also, it boasts many first/best in segments keeping Indian conditions and customers in mind.

Has Seltos busted the myth that some SUV segments are no longer price-sensitive in India?

No doubt that India is a value-conscious market, but we have also observed that Indian customers have a strong affinity for great designs and are willing to spend extra for quality products. They also appreciate excellence in engineering and quality, and respect cars that are globally competitive, and Seltos, which disrupted the mid-SUV market, is a live example of that. With Seltos, we focused on creating a product that addresses the need gap in the category and the changing demand of Indian customers. It caters to the needs of technologically-savvy Indian customers. It has established itself as one of the bestselling SUVs in India and still going strong in its demand.

Are you ramping up production for quicker delivery of vehicles?

Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh can produce 300,000 units annually if utilised fully. Based on the current demand for Kia products, we are working on a two-shift operation and are able to meet the demand with a waiting period of six to eight weeks at the maximum. We will initiate the third shift if we witness a significant surge in demand in the coming months. We aim to attain full capacity at our plant by 2022.

Do you also see an increase in enquiries for Seltos/Sonet in non-metro locations?

All our products, Seltos, Carnival and Sonet have received overwhelming response from metros as well as non-metros in the country. For Seltos and Sonet, more than half of our sales come from non-metros or tier-II and beyond cities, whereas Carnival, being a premium MPV, has created a segment of its own and is targeted towards the elite consumer, is witnessing more demand from metros or tier I cities. We believe that feature-loaded, new-age products appeal to the customers across metros and non-metros. We are sure to witness a surge in demand going forward for personal mobility as the economy and the market are slowly coming back on track in the past few months.

Also read: Automakers Hyundai, Kia warn of $2.9 bn hit to earnings over quality woes

How are you planning to expand the reach of the Kia brand?

We have an existing network of 265 touchpoints across 160 cities in the country, the widest network among the new entrants. With this robust network, we are already present and visible in Tier I, II and III markets of the country reaching out to a wider customer base. We are aggressively looking at expanding this network to 300 touchpoints by the end of this calendar year, increasing our visibility in the Northeast, the northern part of Telangana, Karnataka, and Western Rajasthan, among others. This is aimed at further penetrating the markets with a presence in Tier IV and upcountry markets.

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Published on October 29, 2020
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