India emerges as Kia’s fourth-largest global market, commands 10% overall sales: MD Tae-Jin Park – ET Auto



Tae-Jin Park, MD, Kia India

New Delhi: India is among the South Korean automaker Kia’s top 5 markets, said a top company official.

“India is the fourth largest market, with local sales contributing to 10% of our global sales. The domestic market (South Korea) tops the list with almost 700,000- 750,000 units, followed by the US at about 650,000 units and then the European market at 550,000. India sells about 300,000 units at number four,” Tae-Jin Park, MD, Kia India, told ETAuto.

With an increased focus on the Indian market, the automaker is looking to “completely refresh” its lineup, slim down on exports and expand its network for the next year.

On Thursday, Kia globally premiered the latest version of its compact SUV Sonet. The model was launched in India in 2020.

“We are targeting a minimum growth of around 10% for next year. Our focus is on bringing premium brands in India and we hope that we will have a very aggressive business next year compared to this year,” the MD said.

Currently, the maker of Seltos and Sonet has a production capacity of 3.4 lakh units per annum at its Andhra Pradesh-based manufacturing plant.

The company said it has a flexible production line which allows it to produce the EV and ICE together at the same time. “We will increase the automation with robots though,” he said.

Next year Kia is also introducing the manual transmission again. “Most consumers are moving from manual transmission to automatic. Even though the iMT is a very good technology, it has not been 100% accepted by the customers yet.”

While the supply side production constraints have significantly improved from last year, Kia said it is facing some issues with high-end trims.

About 70%-80% of its customers of facelifted Seltos want only the higher variant. “Usually at the time of launch, our focus is an average of 25% production for the high trims. But we are still at 70% three or four months later.” The company launched the facelift version of its mid-size Seltos in July this year.

Working on EVs and hybrids

Kia earlier shared that it will bring its first mass market EV by 2025. While it is “aggressively looking for the localization of the EV parts, it is very difficult to find local companies with that kind of technology.” However, the company has been working on localising its battery in Chennai.”

“If there is a chance or opportunity, we would also want to export the locally produced EV to the global markets,” Park said.

After EVs, hybrids could be our second priority and then depending on the market demand maybe even CNG. “I think it will take us one or two years to introduce the hybrid.”

By 2030, he expects about 20% of the total Indian passenger vehicle market could be EVs, accounting for about 1 million units.

Exports

Exports constitute about 20% of Kia’s production in India. Park expects the Indian market to be more competitive in terms of price and production next year.

“Looking at the long term business in India, we have to focus more on the domestic market for next year. We want a maximum of 10% of the production to go for exports. After FY 2025-26, whenever the market situation changes, we can be more flexible in maintaining the balance between domestic and export,” he said.

  • Published On Dec 16, 2023 at 12:20 PM IST

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India emerges as Kia's fourth-largest global market, commands 10% overall sales: MD Tae-Jin Park - ET Auto



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