Korean car maker Kia Motors has started the trial production at its first Indian plant in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. With an investment of around $1 billion, the manufacturing plant has an annual production capacity of three lakh vehicles. To tap the fastest growing segment in otherwise a muted market, company will start rolling out the first mid-segment SUV, the SP2. The cars are expected to hit the road by early July of this year. Kia motors signed a memorandum of understanding with the state of Andhra Pradesh in April 2017 and started construction of the plant.
SP2 will be rolled out in both diesel and petrol variants and will be competing with likes of Renault's Duster, Hyundai's Creta and S-Cross. Pricing of SP2, a mid segment SUV, is also expected to be in the price range starting Rs 9 lakhs going on up to Rs 16 lakhs. Kia also plans to roll out a model every six months.
Speaking on the product strategy, Manohar Bhat, head of sales and marketing, Kia motors India, said, "At the shortest possible time we want to have at least 4 or 5 models for the Indian market."
True to its global DNA of quality and design the company is expecting young professionals to make the largest segment of its prospective customers. Not revealing much on dealership network, Kia believes that it will surprise the customers with the network and reach it has worked out, to ensure the product penetration is to the widest extent possible in a short span of time. Currently, the plant will fulfil the domestic need and export is an afterthought.
The company strongly says that it does not have any plans to cross-badge any of its products with Hyundai, which has a strategic stake in the parent company of Kia Motors.
"Our products are Kia products, with their own design and specifications, we don't have anything to do with any other company," Bhat said.
Kia will be sourcing much of its components from the two vendor plants close to Kia's facility in Ananthapur. The company currently employs over 1300 people and plans to ramp up the workforce to 3000 shortly.