[THE INVESTOR] Ahead of its Indian debut, Kia Motors said it was planning to launch three new cars in the country by 2022 to drive expansion in one of the world’s fastest-growing auto markets.
The India-only vehicles, which will include a mid-size SUV and a compact sedan, will be introduced sometime between 2019 -- when the carmaker will complete construction of its first facility -- and 2022, according to Oh Tae-hyun, chief operating officer for Kia’s international business, in a recent interview with the Times of India.
“We have studied the Indian market very deeply, and would like to be one of the mainstream brands here with trend-leading premium-feel products,” Oh was quoted as saying.
He also added the carmaker planned to sell 300,000 units annually in the country once the production kicks off in the second half of 2019.
In April, Kia announced it will invest US$1.1 billion to build the first Indian plant in Andhra Pradesh state with an annual capacity of 300,000 units. Kia CEO Park Han-woo in June said the automaker is laying the groundwork for the site and plans to kick off construction by the year-end.
Since then, the carmaker has been working to enter the Indian market. In July, Kia established its Indian unit Kia Motors India.
Earlier this month, Kia kicked off a series of roadshows in India to meet prospective dealer partners across major Indian cities and introduce possible lineup of cars that will sell in the country.
Kia’s planned entry into India is critical for the Korean carmaker, as it seeks to capitalize on the fast-growing passenger vehicles market in the country, as well as avoid a whopping 60 percent tax on imported vehicles.
More important, Kia is betting on India to offset declining sales in its major overseas markets, the US and China.
India’s auto market, which ranked fifth globally by production last year, is expected to become the world’s third largest by 2020, after China and the US, according to market watchers.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com)