Today marks the start of production of the at the Kia India plant. The first Kia car to launch in India will be an SUV. It will launch in July 2019. It is based on a new platform, on which the 2020 Hyundai Creta will also be based.
Kia India trial production commenced in the presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu along with Kia India’s MD & CEO Kookhyun Shim and South Korea Ambassador to India, Shin Bongkil.
Kia Motors, which produces over 3 million vehicles globally each year, signed an MoU with the Government of Andhra Pradesh in April 2017 for a new manufacturing unit in the state. The construction commenced at the end of 2017. Construction work was completed a month ahead of schedule.
The Anantapur plant is the company’s 15th plant in the world. It is spread over an area of 536 acres. Kia India plant directly employees around 1,300 persons. Employee count will increase to 3,000, once full capacity of 3 lakh units per annum is achieved by 2020. Production at this plant will comprise 90 percent for domestic sales and 10 percent for exports.
Ahead of commencement of trial production, Manohar Bhat, Head of Sales and Marketing at Kia Motors India stated that the company had invested $1 billion (Rs 7,000 crores) in this facility with another $1 billion invested by vendors. The Kia plant consists of a press shop, engine and transmission unit, body shop, paint booth and final assembly line. Besides the main plant area, Kia is also setting up a new training center, giant test track and township opposite the main factory.
With the Kia SP SUV, the company plans a dominating presence in this segment in the country. The new Kia SUV will be offered with a host features and on board equipment along with a highly competitive pricing. Kia India revealed that the launch price of their new SUV will range from Rs 9 lakhs to Rs 16 lakhs. This competitive price will be achieved due to heavy localization, and parts sharing with Hyundai cars.
Kia India did not reveal engine details. But they did confirm that the SUV will be offered with a petrol, and a diesel engine. When asked, if electric variant will be launched, Kia officials said that they do not have any plans to launch electric variant as of now.
Once launched in India, the Kia SP SUV will compete with the Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster, Mahindra XUV500 and Tata Harrier. After the launch of this SUV, Kia will launch two more cars. In the next 18 months, Kia says they will have 3 new cars on sale in India.