Kia Motors, the latest global entrant in the India market, is gearing up to play in the highly competitive and promising Indian passenger vehicle market. The company, which is South Korea's oldest automobile OEM and a Hyundai affiliate, is learnt to be betting on design, features and reliability as the three key factors to woo Indian customers with.
Kia, which is to set up a 300,000 units per annum vehicle manufacturing plant in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, will have the market debut of the brand in the second half of 2019, most likely during the start of the festive season. During the first phase, Kia Motors plans to have a network of 40 dealers.
The company has already held roadshows for prospective dealers in New Delhi and Mumbai, and will host one each in Bangalore and Kolkata soon. The first set of Kia products to be launched in India will be a compact SUV and a sedan. Other relevant models will be introduced in due course.
The Korean carmaker held its first dealer roadshow in New Delhi on August 8-9 and the second in Mumbai on August 16-17, both of which saw good attendance from the dealer fraternity.
Apart from sharing corporate information about the company and highlighting its business plans for India, the company showcased a range of models from its international line-up. Kia Motors is using the event to gain ground-level feedback about the Indian market. The strategy is a good one, considering automobile dealers are known to be the eyes and ears of a market and the ones who best connect with customers.
According to sources present at the event, the company said that it is very serious about the Indian market and is aiming to be a key player. Kia Motors officials also also stressed the fact that, while being a part of the Hyundai Group, Kia will be an independent brand in its own right and will compete with Hyundai just as it would with other brands in the competitive Indian marketplace.
A total of seven Kia models were present at the dealer roadshow. Here's a closer look at the passenger vehicle range that was showcased to prospective Indian dealers:
Kia Picanto: The Kia Picanto is powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine that develops 67hp at 5500rpm and 95Nm of torque at 3750rpm, and is equipped with a five-speed gearbox. The Korean manufacturer claims a top speed of 155kph and a fuel efficiency of 20kpl.
The Picanto shares its platform with the Hyundai i10 sold in international markets but is smaller than the Hyundai Grand i10 sold in India. It has a length of 3595mm, width of 1485mm, height of 1595mm, and a wheelbase of 2400mm. The hatchback’s gross weight is 1370kg and it has a ground clearance of 151mm. It also gets 255 litres of boot space.
If Kia brings the hatchback to India, the Picanto will rival the Maruti Celerio, Renault Kwid 1.0 and Hyundai Grand i10.
Kia Rio: The Rio is a larger hatchback than the Picanto. It is powered by a 1.25-litre petrol engine that produces 84hp at 6000rpm and 122Nm of torque at 4000rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual that helps it hit a claimed top speed of 170kph. Fuel efficiency is a claimed 19.23kpl.
The Kia Rio is 4065mm long, 1450mm wide and 1720mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2580mm. It has a gross weight of 1560kg, has 150mm ground clearance and boasts 325 litres of boot space.
The Rio is in the same class as the Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, the upcoming Ford Figo and Suzuki Swift.
Kia Cerato: The Kia Cerato sedan is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol motor that produces 130hp and 157Nm of torque. Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, the Cerato is claimed to deliver fuel economy of 14.93kpl and top speed of 195kph.
The sedan is 4560mm long, 1435mm wide and 1780mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2700mm. The Cerato weighs 1,740kg and has a ground clearance of 150mm. It also has 482 litres of boot space.
Kia’s Cerato is sold as the Forte in the US, but will rival the likes of the Volkswagen Jetta, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla Altis if it is launched in India.
Kia Optima: The Optima is a larger sedan when compared to the Cerato and gets a more powerful 2.0-litre petrol mill that develops 143hp and 204Nm of torque, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The claimed mileage and top speed are 13.16kpl and 208kph, respectively.
The Kia Optima is 4855mm long, 1860mm wide and 1465mm tall, with a 2805mm wheelbase. It has a ground clearance of 145mm, along with a gross weight of 2,020kg. Boot space stands at 510 litres. The Kia Optima will rival the Toyota Camry, Skoda Superb and the Honda Accord if it is introduced in India.
Kia Sportage: The Sportage SUV showcased at the Kia dealer roadshows is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine developing 185hp and 402Nm of torque. Its diesel engine is paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox that helps deliver a claimed fuel efficiency of 14.93kpl and a claimed top speed of 201kph.
The Sportage is 4480mm long, 1635mm wide and 1855mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2670mm. It has a ground clearance of 182mm, a boot space of 466 litres, and weighs 2,170kg. In the Indian market, Kia’s Sportage will rival the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and the Jeep Compass.
Kia Niro: The Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle is a key component to Kia Motors' Green Car Roadmap. A no-compromise vehicle that combines driving enjoyment with eye-catching design, functional utility and hybrid efficiency, the all-new Niro strikes stakes claim to a unique position between the hybrid-electric vehicle and CUV segments.
While it was preceded by clean mobility products such as the Optima Hybrid and Soul EV, Niro is the first Kia to make use of an all-new, dedicated eco-car platform and is an important next step on the path to nearly tripling the brand's global green car line-up by 2020.
Kia Motors also displayed the larger Sorento SUV at the two roadshows.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Kia Motors' make-in-India programme.