Aim­ing high

Kia is com­pletely com­mit­ted to its In­dian op­er­a­tions

Evo India - - BRIEFING -

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

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