Auto focus

Auto brand set to fire on all cylinders

Murali Gopalan | Updated on March 12, 2020

KH Shim, MD and CEO, Kia Motors India

Will launch ‘India strategic new model’ in 2021

Kia has drawn up an aggressive roadmap for India, going by an investor presentation made last month. The Korean automaker has noted here that growth in India has fallen from 2017 onwards due to “past long period of high growth”. There are obvious signs of weakened customer sentiment due to the sluggish economy.

Yet, it remains positive about the following fiscal (2020-21), thanks largely to “easing uncertainties on BS-VI policy” and recovery of overall economic conditions. The downside is the “possibility of facing financing difficulties”, a clear reference to the current liquidity crisis where accessing funds from NBFCs and banks is proving to be difficult for the customer.

Kia indicated in the presentation that the stupendous market response to the Seltos has seen it catapult to the second spot in the mid-SUV range. What is especially creditable is that Seltos sales only began last August and its good showing has “established the premium brand image of Kia”. The company has also referred to new model launches in India, which include the Carnival premium MPV and Sonet entry SUV, due to debut this August. They were part of the Delhi Auto Expo parade this year. An interesting part of the presentation also pertains to the launch of an ‘India strategic new model’ by 2021.

The ramp-up plan at the Andhra Pradesh plant will see Kia’s numbers going up from 65,000 units in 2019 to 170,000 this year, thereon to 230,000 units in 2021 and finally to 300,000 units by 2022.

“We are here with a good product and good design coupled with good service,” says KH Shim, MD and CEO at Kia Motors India. It is a matter of pride to him that despite the ongoing slowdown, the company hit the bullseye with the Seltos.

“We provided the best product with a great design and perfect service to make customers happy. The government’s Make in India initiative also prompted us to begin exports last year,” says Shim.

So far, over 13,000 units of Seltos have been shipped out and this year will see the number increase. “Before we came to India, we were aware of the Make in India policy and were determined to make this a global hub for our operations,” he adds.

Fierce competitors

Even while Kia and Hyundai have some synergies at the backend, they remain fierce competitors. “We are still a differentiated brand (vis-à-vis Hyundai) and have a different point of view and an approach to the market. The idea is to give customers a lot of choice with Kia,” says Shim.

Clearly, the success of the Seltos has been the best piece of news to the company and it is now determined to continue pushing the envelope with new and exciting products. “Customers love us after the Seltos and we will constantly incorporate their requirements into our products. In the long run, we hope to be the most loved brand in India,” says the Kia Motors India chief.

Published on March 12, 2020

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