Kia’s Indian entry has been in the news for the past few years but Hyundai’s sister brand continues to be tight-lipped about it. There were reports that the South Korean automaker conducted several market studies including a complete feasibility study in India.
Last year it was reported that Kia has kick-started the preliminary work on identifying land for a local factory, possible models and suppliers. This indicates that Kia’s Operation India is a go. If things go as per plan, Kia India is expected to start selling cars in 2-3 years’ time. Clearing the governmental formalities, construction of the infrastructure, procuring the tooling and localization of products are all time-consuming processes.
It’s a bit too early to predict Kia India’s product portfolio but one can safely expect a crossover, a SUV and a hatchback to be in the mix. Kia’s comprehensive global lineup also includes a range of sharp looking sedans. Several Hyundai models have a Kia counterpart, so component sharing would play a huge role in the Indian operations.
Now, two Kia models have been spied on test in India – Kia Soul and Kia Sportage. Kia Soul is a compact SUV while the Sportage is a crossover. Both cars have the potential to generate good sales as the SUV / crossover market is booming as of now in the country. Also, this is the first time that Kia models have been spied on test in India wearing a Indian license plate. This confirms that Kia has started road-testing of their select cars in India.
It remains to be seen whether Kia India will rely on Hyundai India for distribution and sales network or set up its own apparatus.
Once Kia sets up its new facility, it is also possible Hyundai could be using Kia’s new facility to produce some of its models. This would ensure that Kia India’s capacity utilization would be maintained at a satisfactory level even as the brand takes baby steps in the market. It is also to be noted that Hyundai India is in need of additional capacity as it’s existing facility is running at near-full capacity.