Kia is completely committed to its Indian operations
WHAT KIA DOES, KIA DOES big. Making a grand brand debut at the Auto Expo, the Korean manufacturer’s pavilion occupied a complete hall at the Expo Centre in Greater Noida. It was a sign of things to come, for the factory that is being built to manufacture vehicles like the SP Concept that was showcased at the Expo and will lead Kia’s onslaught into the Indian automobile market come 2019, is massive.
Spread over 536 sprawling acres in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh, the facility that is rapidly taking shape is going to be Kia’s 15th production plant in the world. By the time it is finished sometime in the middle of next year, the Korean manufacturer will have invested a whopping US$ 1.1 billion (`7,000 crore), and about 3,000 people will come to work here daily. It’s an indication of how committed Kia is to its Indian operations.
After all, with our young and vast population, there’s ample scope for the growth of the automobile industry in the years to come. In fact, 90 per cent of the Indian factory’s output will be allocated for Indian showrooms across the country and only 10 per cent will be exported. Following the introduction of the SP Concept’s road going version, there will be two more models that will be launched over the first couple of years after the plant becomes fully operational. Given the rapid rate of construction, the company management expects to roll out the first production car by around Diwali 2019.
While Kia’s plans look robust and set firmly on the growth path, the big question in everybody’s mind is can Kia show the same form of Korean magic that Hyundai, Kia’s sister brand, did two decades ago? A lot of that would depend on the company’s product lineup and positioning.
While we don’t know if Kia’s decision to position itself over Hyundai is the correct one, a taste of some of the products reveal promise. Which isn’t surprising, given that the Sportage and the Rio that we were given to drive at the plant share their underpinnings with the very capable Tucson and the excellent Elite i20. Both however seemed firmer than what we’re used to in their Hyundai counterparts here in India, but neither the Sportage nor the Rio we tried out were part of the brand’s global portfolio and not slated for India. So a judgement based on these teaser drives would be erroneous. What did come through however was that, like Hyundai, Kia has excellent products that will do well on the back of a sound strategy and a robust network. Over to you Kia.
Kia’s plans look robust and set firmly on the growth path
Main pic: Construction is on at full swing in Anantpur as Kia prepares for its first product launch by Diwali 2019. Above: Kia had their entire range on hand to sample the brand offerings