Manohar Bhat: 'Our larger goal is to be among top 5 players in the Indian market'
With a host of models catering to a wide variety of segments available in the carmaker's global portfolio, sifting through them and getting the right ones for India, in fact, has put the company in a 'problem of the riches’, tells Manohar Bhat, head, Marketing and Sales, Kia Motors India.
Kia Motors, part of the Hyundai Motor Group, is set to enter the Indian market with its first product - a compact SUV - based on the SP Concept showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo. It reportedly has set a target of selling 300,000 cars annually by 2021.
With a host of models catering to a wide variety of segments available in the carmaker's global portfolio, sifting through them and getting the right ones for India, in fact, has the company with a 'problem of the riches’, says Manohar Bhat, head, Marketing and Sales, Kia Motors India.
Come the second half of 2019, would Kia be entering India with just the SP Concept, or would there be an immediate rollout of other models too?
We have a strong line-up of models spanning many segments right from the Picanto in the hatchback space to the Stinger in the sports coupe segment. We have a lot of vehicles and while we have many ideas for the Indian market, we are currently assessing the market needs by researching various customer groups and we will gradually decide what all models to introduce here.
We are, in fact, facing a ‘problem of the riches’, with so many offerings in Kia’s portfolio.
Since the UV segment is the most rapidly growing one in the present day, so that is our prime target at the moment with the SP Concept. Once that is launched, we would want to bring in other models as soon as possible in a lot of other segments. Maybe, six months down the line, we could see the next product getting launched.
Would sharing platforms with Hyundai make it easier for you to quickly launch new products in the market?
Well, both Kia and Hyundai belong to the parent Hyundai Motor Group and that is the only commonality between the two. Since investments in technology are generally huge, so platform-sharing is a way to optimise these capital expenditures. We are not looking at it from any other perspective.
How many retail and aftersales outlets are you targeting at launch? Are these going to be standalone or will they be shared with Hyundai?
We are going to have an all-India network as Indian customers require the comfort level for sales and servicing support. Kia is a completely independent company and hence, we will not be sharing our outlets with Hyundai. We are in the process of finalising our dealer partners and the actual number will be announced once everything is concrete.
What is Kia’s positioning going to be? Would it compete more with Maruti Suzuki or Hyundai?
We are not targeting any particular company; instead our aim is to target the product segments and offer Kia’s offering at a very competitive price.
Our larger goal is to become the No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 player in the Indian market once our initial production capacity of 300,000 units at our Anantapur plant comes into full utilisation.
Kia's target is to have 16 electrified vehicles globally by 2025. Would you also be considering EVs for the Indian market?
For sure, we will be considering EVs for India, but their adoption will be determined by some basic requirements.
Firstly, customer demand. It would come if there is the availability of infrastructure facility, which includes charging stations both at public and private spots, which takes time to set up.
The second factor is the vehicle range. We have vehicles running in the US, which have over 200km of range on a single charge, and given their infrastructure, that much range is sufficient for the market.
Once these necessities are met and the customer also accepts the cost viability of an EV, then we will see electrified vehicles taking off in India.
Would you also consider hybrids for India?
We have an entire range of electrified models, including plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles. Ideally, it is the plug-in hybrids which make for a better option to step onto the road to electrification for a country like India. It still all depends on government policies.
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