Kia is on the roll in India. Its local manufacturing arm has recorded its highest-ever monthly domestic sales since its entry into the price-conscious, competitive Indian market: 21,021 units in October 2020. This number constitutes robust 64% year-on-year growth (October 2019: 12,786). The model-wise sales split in October 2020 for the three-model portfolio is Sonet – 11,721 units, Seltos – 8,900 units and Carnival – 400 units.
With this sterling performance, the company has driven past the 150,000-unit sales milestone in barely 14 months since it began commercial sales in the Indian market in August 2019 (see stats table below). This, with just three products – one midsize SUV, a compact SUV and an MPV.
As per Autocar Professional’s data analytics, Kia Motors India has, till end-October 2020, sold a total of 152,891 units, the Seltos accounting for the bulk of them – 127,345 units or 83.29%. The Sonet, launched only two months ago, has contributed 20,987 units or 13.72%, and looks to make the most of booming compact SUV market in India. Meanwhile, the Carnival, which is a luxury MPV, has sold a total of 4,559 units since its launch in February 2020 at the Auto Expo.
Take a close look at these sales statistics and you can see how the Seltos and the recently launched Sonet compact SUV are making waves in the Indian market, both clearly game-changers in the Indian market which is all about SUV-ival of the fittest.
Commenting on the company’s successful run in the competitive Indian market, Kookhyun Shim, MD and CEO, Kia Motors India said, “We are witnessing a strong surge in customer demand from across the markets, and are confident that it will grow even further with the onset of the festive season. It is good to see the numbers rebounding with the market slowly coming back on track as the customers are going ahead with their long-held purchases. We are extremely happy with the way we have performed in the past couple of months and are confident of continuing this success beyond Diwali as well. Keeping this in mind, we are now considering starting of the third shift in our plant to meet the rapidly growing demand for our products in India.”
The carmaker has ample manufacturing capacity in hand at its 300,000 units per annum plant at Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh.
Betting big on Sonet, revving up Seltos
Meanwhile, Kia Motors Corp is betting big on the new Sonet, which is tasked with sale of 100,000 units in its first year in India and 50,000 units exports. Considering that the Sonet has 50,000 bookings in the bag within two months of launch, the carmaker is already halfway there in its India sales mission.
Meanwhile, in a bid to rev up sales of the Seltos, the company launched the Seltos Anniversary Edition on October 15, with prices starting at Rs 13.75 lakh and going up to Rs 14.85 lakh (ex-showroom, India). This new, limited-edition variant celebrates the model’s one-year anniversary in India. Kia will only offer this iteration of the Seltos for a limited period of time.
On the export front, Kia Motors India is gradually expanding its footprint. In FY2020, it shipped 21,461 Seltos SUVs (7,191 diesel and 14,270 petrol variants) and in the April-September 2020 period, despatched another 16,606 units. Expect the Sonet to add to the count this fiscal.
India’s growing contribution to Kia’s global sales
Having notched its best monthly sales in October 2020 also means Kia Motors India’s share of Kia Motor Corporation’s global sales is also growing month on month.
Kia recorded total global sales of 265,714 units in October 2020 (6.1%), which means its Indian operations, with 21,021 units, contributed to 7.91% of that total. In September, with 18,676 units, Kia Motors India contributed 7.18% to Kia’s global sales of 260,023 units. And in August 2020, of Kia's total global sales of 216,945 units, the Indian operations sold 10,845 units and contributed 5% to the total number.
As per Kia Motor Corp’s Q3 CY2020 business results, presented on October 26 and reviewed by Autocar Professional, the Korean carmaker has seen a 260% jump in India compared to Q3 2019. A comparison on sales revenue by region indicates that in Q3, 2020 India sales rose 3.9% versus overall sales growth of 8.2% YoY (calculated in KMI local revenue terms), and market share in India with respect to sales rose to 5.2% from 2.2% YoY.
In a recent interview to Autocar India, Ho Sung Song, President, Kia Motors Corporation, said: “India is very important to us from a strategy point of view – not only for sales, but also on the production and corporate side. We will use the India factory as a standard export hub for compact and medium-sized SUVs, because the worldwide trend for SUVs is getting stronger and stronger, while the hatch and sedan are weakening. I think that we will continue to think about what type of SUV will be necessary, not only in India, but also on a worldwide basis, and we will produce in our Indian factory those kind of vehicles.”
“This year, we are targeting probably 1,30,000 units in the Indian market, plus some export volumes. I think the demand will still be good, and also response to the Sonet is quite good. So I believe that we can comfortably operate our factory based on the 300,000-unit capacity we have built. Out of that volume, 200,000 units will be for the domestic market in India and 100,000 units in export. This is the kind of volume scale in our mind at the moment," added Ho Sung Song.
Kia Motor Corp clearly is bullish on its India manufacturing operation. Given that in a scant 14 months, Kia Motors India has averaged monthly sale of nearly 11,000 units and grabbed a 13.90% share of the competitive utility vehicle market and 5.34% of the overall passenger vehicle market, there’s little more that a parent can ask of its ward.
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