Kia India breaks through 600,000 sales in just 40 months, chases further growth

A relatively unknown brand in India barely four years ago, Kia is now a formidable player in the competitive Indian market and the India operation a jewel in the Korean carmaker’s crown.

By Ajit Dalvi calendar 04 Dec 2022 Views icon12200 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

With sale of 24,025 units in November 2022, Kia India has driven past the 600,000-units cumulative sales milestone in the domestic market. The landmark comes just 40 months after Kia, which belongs to the Hyundai Motor Group, began retail sales in the Indian market with the launch of the 16-variant Seltos midsize SUV on August 22, 2019.

Since its market entry three years and four months ago with a single product, Kia India is now a formidable player in the passenger vehicle market. As of end-October 2022, with five products – the Seltos midsize SUV, Sonet compact SUV, Carnival and Carens MPVs and the EV6 electric crossover – it has a 13.5% utility vehicle share. It is ranked fifth in a competitive market of 16 players, with all the rest behind it with single-digit UV market share. Clearly, it’s a performance that’s far better than some well-established players which have been around for far longer. 

Big-numbers player
That Kia would be a big-numbers player was apparent in a few months after market entry. The strategy of launching its first product in multiple variants, at multiple price-points, clicked majorly in a competitive SUV market, and has since been duplicated by some rival OEMs too.

While the 25,000-unit sales mark was crossed in 3 months, the 75,000-units sales landmark came up in just 7 months. The 100,000-mark was crossed in 11 months and the 250,000 milestone rolled in 22 months, indicating the marked acceleration in sales.

Speedy drive to 600,000
100,000 units: July 2020
200,000 units: January 2021
300,000 units: August 2021
400,000 units: February 2022
500,000 units: July 2022
600,000 units: November 2022

Kia became the quickest carmaker to 300,000-unit sales in the Indian market, crossing the milestone in August 2021 – just 24 months. That it was set to do so was accurately forecast in early August by Autocar Professional. While the 400,000th Kia was sold in February 2022, the half-a-million or 500,000 milestone was quickly surpassed in mid-July 2022, with the run from 400,000 to 500,000 taking just four-and-a-half months. This is courtesy the robust customer demand for its new MPV, the Carens, which was launched on February 15, 2022, and sold 30,953 units between February and July 2022.

Now, the latest 100,000-unit sales have also come up in another four months, which means the company has averaged 15,167 sales a month over 40 months. Very creditable for a company which, barely four years ago, was a relatively unknown brand in India.

Seltos and Sonet command 88% of India sales
The Seltos, Kia’s first made-in-India product, remains its best-seller and has sold a total of 335,920 units since launch, accounting for 55% of the company’s total sales of 606,687 units.

The Sonet compact SUV, launched in September 2020, has contributed 33% (198,131 units) to overall sales, while the Carens MPV has sold 59,561 units in 10 months to take a 10% share of Kia India’s total domestic market sales. The EV6, brought in as a CBU from Korea, has 296 units to its credit tilld end-October 2022.

India contributes 9% to global sales in YTD 2022
For Kia, India is now a jewel in its crown and the past couple of years have seen the Indian operations grow their contribution to the Korean carmaker’s global sales. The latest update on this front is that in the year to date – January to November 2022 – Kia has sold a total of 2,663,734 units globally, up 3.7% YoY.

Of this, Kia India’s share is 239,372 units, up 38% (January-November 2021: 173,786) and accounting for 9% of total global sales in the first 11 months of this year. The India market contribution increases to 11% when seen solely as overseas market cumulative sales of 2,173,202 units. Key global markets for Kia include the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific, India, and Central and South America regions.

Strong export performance too
One of the major attractions for any vehicle manufacturer in India is to deploy the make-in-India manufacturing mantra for its export operation. For Kia, India has also turned out to be a strong growth driver for its global export market programme.

Kia India kicked off its made-in-India export drive in September 2019, with its first overseas consignment of 471 Seltos SUVs despatched from Chennai Port and headed for South America. The company, which rolls out its products from its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, has inked a 10-year MoU with the Chennai Port for its export operations.

A little over four years since it began shipping its made-in-India vehicles abroad, Kia India has recorded cumulative shipments of 162,052 units till end-October 2022. Like the domestic market, the Seltos, accounts for the bulk of export sales – 113,054 units or 69.76% of total exports.

The Sonet compact SUV, which is solely produced in India, accounts for 44,771 units or 27.62%, while the Carens MPV has chalked up shipments of 4,227 units or 2.60% of Kia India’s total exports.

Growth outlook: 2021 sales surpassed, record fiscal coming up
With the tailwinds of the SUV-charged sales of the PV industry in India behind it, like other UV-heavy OEMs, Kia too is making the most of customer demand for its products.

From the calendar-year perspective, Kia India has already scaled a new high with December numbers yet to be logged. In the first 11 months of 2022, the company has sold a total of 239,372 units, up 38% (January-November 2021: 173,786), surpassing CY2021’s 181,583 units.

The company is also driving towards record fiscal sales – the 179,310 units sold in the first eight months of FY2023 are already 96% of the previous best – FY2022’s 186,787 units – and will hit a new high from this month itself. 

Growth on the export front is hitting a new high too: cumulative April-October 2022 shipments of 49,269 units are 1,595 units shy of FY2022’s 50,864 units. This would have been crossed in November 2022, data of which is not yet available.

Kia has ramped up production considerably – April-October 2022 output at 205,948 units is a 57% YoY increase and already 87% of FY2022’s 236,036 units.

Kia India production
FY2020: 101,420 units
FY2021: 193,488 units
FY2022: 236,036 units
FY2023: 205,948 units*
Total: 736,892 units
* Aprll-Oct 2022

Importantly, given that the semiconductor supply chain issue is still not history, Kia seems to be managing the demand-supply situation rather well. SIAM data reveals that the Anantapur plant, which has a manufacturing capacity of 300,000 units per annum, has rolled out a total of 736,892 units till end-October 2022. The company has ramped up production considerably – the April-October 2022 output at 205,948 units is a 57% YoY increase and already 87% of FY2022’s 236,036 units – its best yet.

Hardeep Singh Brar, Vice-President and Head of Sales & Marketing, Kia India said, "We are glad to post healthy sales figures throughout this year due to improved customer sentiment and pent-up demand. The commencement of the third shift at our state-of-the-art Anantapur Plant earlier this year and gradually improving supply chain has also helped us streamline the delivery period and meet our customers' expectations. However, we will remain observant of dynamic market conditions."

Given the demand momentum, though Kia won’t run out of manufacturing capacity soon, you can be sure it will be looking to expand production in the near future. But that calls for an altogether different analysis.

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