After living up to its promise of introducing a new car every six months with the rollout of executive MPV Carnival in February and launch of compact SUV Sonet next month, the company has decided to consolidate its portfolio and wait for the pandemic to subside before announcing new models in India.
“We had stated that we will keep introducing a new model every six months. But at the time, we had not anticipated an unprecedented event like the pandemic. Covid has led to a hiccup in our plans. It is a speed breaker for now but India’s long-term potential as an automobile market still remains. For now, we will focus on the launch of Sonet and carrying the momentum of Seltos and Carnival forward,” said Kia Motors India marketing & sales head Manohar Bhat.
09:13Kia Sonet: Made in India, designed for world
The Indian subsidiary has an entire range of products from the parent company portfolio to choose from and had initially planned to launch six-seven cars by March 2022 to fully utilize the three-lakh capacity production plant in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, Covid-19 has forced it to revisit the timelines.
Such is the uncertainty in the market that Bhat isn’t prepared to hazard a guess on Kia Motors India’s market share by this year end though it ended its first year with 6% market share while riding on virtually a single product, the Seltos.
Of the 1,02,609 vehicles Kia sold from August last, 98,979 were Seltos with Carnival making up the rest. While auto pundits believe Kia can increase its market share to double digits by this fiscal end with the exciting Sonet that will hit the roads next month, Bhat said the company would focus on customer satisfaction with timely delivery of cars that were superior to the competition.
“We expect the Sonet to do very well in an extremely competitive segment. We have already received over 9,000 bookings. The numbers will go up after next month’s launch. We are currently producing cars in two shifts and may add a third shift at the plant if needed,” Bhat explained.
Though the officials kept the domestic sales figures for the Sonet close to their chest, Kia India executive director and chief sales officer Tae-Jin Park said 50,000 units of Sonet would be exported from the India plant in a year. Among the countries where the Sonet will be exported are Indonesia, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Kia currently exports Seltos to 40 countries.