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kia seltos: Kia Motors hits the bullseye, but how will it sustain?, Auto News, ET Auto

By Shalini Priya

New Delhi: South Korean carmaker Kia Motors made a strong foray into India, with its debut product Seltos raking in 6,000 bookings on the very first day of commencement of its booking. Launched on August 22, it sold 6,200 units last month, emerging as the 7th largest PV maker in India.

“Kia has 40,000 bookings at the moment which is going up every minute,” Manohar Bhatt, National Head, Sales & Marketing, Kia Motors India told ET Auto in an exclusive interview. So what turn the tide in Kia Motors favour when all giants have been struggling?

Bhatt credits advance and precise planning for the success. He also added that another key factor behind the product’s success was they tried to design Kia Seltos based on what Indian customer needs.

“We prepared our plans two-three years in advance. We started by researching what Indian customer wants by doing customer clinics, interviewing industry experts and vendors to judge how the Indian market is going to be evolving and what exactly can we do to make a big mark in this market,” Bhatt said.

The company also managed to have a very attractive introductory price of Rs. 9.69 lakh which acted as a catalyst for many SUV intenders. While Kia’s network strategy has been very aggressive. Along with the debut product the carmaker ascertained presence in 160 cities with around 265 touchpoints.

Their number of dealers is more than what most companies which have been existing in Indian market for over a decade.

Read Also: Kia Motors debut month sales beat half a dozen car brands in India

Amidst the success story there has been some sceptic who raised doubt on retail numbers of Seltos and also on sustained interest in the company.

Bhatt counters it, “We have very consistent footfall in showrooms which indicates people are interested in purchasing our vehicle. Kia started retail in the end of last month when the price was announced. Retails will be more this month, especially towards the festival season that starts on the 29th.”

The company which captured 8.6% market share in the UV segment with debut product is not going to let it go so easily. It plans to have a beefed up strategy here.

In order to smoothen order to meet the customer demand, the company plans to ramp up the production rate at their Anantapur plant in Andhra Pradesh which currently has an annual capacity of 300,000.

Bhatt shares that Kia will introduce one product every six month. “You can expect our next vehicle during the upcoming Auto Expo in January. It could be an MPV. We are looking very closely at that, it will be tailor-made suiting that segment customers.”

As the industry is gung-ho on electric vehicle in India in the coming few year, Bhatt exerts his readiness for the same.

Kia is an important player in the global EV industry with 5%-6% market share in developed economies like America, Europe or Korea. On India’s roll out plan, Bhatt says “We presented a fully electric vehicle to Andhra Pradesh government but there is no point producing a vehicle if the customer doesn’t want it.”

According to Bhatt, adequate charging infrastructure is going to play an instrumental role in the electrification of the auto industry.

He adds, “When the infrastructure will be there, the customers will be able to charge the vehicle and there will be no range anxiety and also price should be competitive with IC Engine vehicle. The government should address these issues as they are the one making the policies.”