As the Indian auto market continues to burgeon, new players are entering the market to get themselves a slice of one of the largest automotive markets in the word. Among them, the sister company to Hyundai, Kia Motors seems to have most of the attention in the public eye. The company has set a target of launching their first product in India mid-2019, the new car will be an SUV based on the Kia SP Concept showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo. Now, as the date draws closer their country strategy is evolving and coming to the spotlight, interestingly, the company has now announced that they will steer clear of the mass segment and position themselves as a mass brand. "Yes, we are considering six models in three years, which is one model every six months," Kia Motors India CEO and Managing Director Kookhyun Shim was quoted in saying to PTI.
The company, however, is not considering the compact cars segment which accounts for about 70 per cent of the total Indian passenger vehicles (PV) segment that stood at around 3.3 million units in 2017-18. Currently, the Indian PV market is dominated by Maruti Suzuki India followed by Hyundai, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and Honda.
"We want to position ourselves as a premium brand. At the moment there is no plan for compact cars in India," he said. When asked how confident is the company of becoming one of the top-five players in India while being absent from the compact segment, he said, "Kia has a lot of experience in the global market with presence in 180 countries. Our target is based on our experience and not just a dream target." Shim further said, "We think it is very feasible. So, at the moment the compact car is not on our line-up. However, whenever we think we need some volume support we can put a compact car in our line up." From the middle of 2019, Kia will start selling it will start with SUV, SP Concept that was showcased at the Auto Expo this year.
"We are developing out first product, SP Concept, based on Indian customers' aspirational needs, as well as engineering and design. We are bullish about the success of this car," he said. Asked if Kia would continue to develop such India specific products in future too, Shim said, "We will. We find that the Indian market is very diverse and each segment there will be different needs. We are looking at the market segment wise and serve all the customer needs. We are monitoring the market." Kia is investing USD 1.1 billion to set up its plant in Andhra Pradesh which will have an annual capacity of three lakh units. It will employ around 3,000 persons when fully operational.