Bullish-on-India Kia raises Sonet SUV sales target to 100,000 units in first year, and 50k exports

by Ajit Dalvi 23 Jul 2020


Kia Motors Corporation, which announced its Q2 FY2020 sales numbers (516,050 / -28% YoY) earlier today, has also revealed plans to take on the adverse market environment stemming  from the Covid-19 pandemic. The company says it “plans to guard profitability and market competitiveness with pioneering new models, while optimising production capacity to best cope with the recovery in market demand.”

One of the new models that the Korean carmaker is banking on is the upcoming Kia Sonet compact SUV, which is to have its world premiere on August 7, two weeks from now, in India.

As per Kia Motor Corporation’s Q2 CY2020 results presentation released today and the sales plan reviewed by Autocar Professional, the company has chalked out an ambitious sales target of 100,000 units in India and another 50,000 units to be exported. The plan also reveals September 2020 to be the launch month for the snazzy Sonet. These figures are an upward revision of the Sonet sales target announced in April 2020, which called for 70,000 units in year one.

Kia Motors India is already playing a strong role in the company's global scheme of things. In Q1 2020, the Indian operations have contributed 5.5% to total revenues from sales of the Seltos and Carnival. 

Kia Motors India's UV share at 13.41% in Q1 FY2020 
The Korean carmaker is having a dream run in the Indian market. A game-changing product in the form of the Seltos SUV, multiple variants at multiple price points and fast-expanding retail network gave it a good foothold. 

It may be recollected that in FY2020, in a short span of 8 months, Kia grabbed an 8.97% share of the UV market with sale of 84,903 units (81,716 Seltos SUVs and 3,187 Carnival MPVs), becoming the new No. 4 UV player after Maruti Suzuki India (24.87%), Mahindra & Mahindra (18.96%), Hyundai Motor India (18.69%) and ahead of more well-established OEMs like Toyota Kirloskar Motor (7.07%), Tata Motors (6.28%) and Ford India (4.68%).

Now, it looks to be taking that performance further. In Q1 FY2021, with sale of 8,936 units, the company’s UV market share has increased to 13.41 percent – a remarkable performance for an automaker which has yet to turn a year old in the competitive Indian market.

The Kia Sonet is entering a fiercely competitive segment in India and the compact SUV is expected to have the specifications to match. Segment-leading kit is likely to include a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Kia’s UVO in-car connectivity tech, a premium Bose sound system and a sunroof.

When it is launched in September, the Kia Sonet’s prices are expected to be in the Rs 700,000-12 lakh (ex-showroom) bracket. There’ll be a number of engine-gearbox options on offer – a 1.2-litre petrol-manual; a 1.0-litre turbo-petrol with manual and dual-clutch auto options; and a 1.5-litre diesel with manual and torque-convertor automatic options. In fact, there’ll also be a clutchless manual option (iMT) with the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine – this technology has debuted  on the Sonet’s rival and sibling, the Hyundai Venue yesterday.

Eyeing strong exports too
Interestingly, India and Kia Motors India's plant in Andhra Pradesh will be the sole production base in the world for the Sonet and that there's huge export potential for the snazzy compact SUV. Speaking to Autocar India earlier this year, Han-Woo Park, then president and CEO of Kia Motors, said: "When our global partners saw the Sonet, they got a shock. This is a model everyone wants to have. The Sonet will be the symbolic model for our exports from India.”

On May 28, Kia Motors India announced an additional investment of $54 million (Rs 400 crore) in Andhra Pradesh, where it has its manufacturing plant at Anantapur. The Korean carmaker has already invested around $1.1 billion (Rs 8,141 crore) Anantapur, which has an existing 300,000 units-per-annum-capacity plant and the additional investment is expected further help the company ramp up production by around 100,000 to 150,000 units, as it expects to further increase sales and exports from the country.

Now as it plans to launch the Sonet and rev up sales of the Seltos and Carniva, the company also plans to increase production to meet market demand in the form of two shifts from end-July 2020.

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