Korean auto major Kia Motors, which Wednesday rolled out its maiden model, the Seltos, said they will export the mid-sized SUV to as neighbouring countries, as also to South America and Africa shortly. The launch of the new vehicle, priced at priced at Rs 9.69-15.99 lakh, comes at a time when the automotive industry is in dire straits and sending SoS to the government amid the worst slowdown in nearly two decades.
But Kia Motors, which is the eight largest auto manufacturer in the world, has defended its USD 2 billion
investment in the country including the USD 1.1 billion it has invested to set up a 3 lakh unit plant in Andhra, saying it is here for the long-haul.
The Seltos is manufactured at its Ananthpur plant in Andhra and comes in both BS-VI-compliant petrol and diesel
engines, making it the first car in the segment to meet the new emissions norms that will come into effect next April. “The Seltos has been one of the most ambitious projects for us and marks the arrival of Kia in India. We have put our heart and soul into this product,” Kookhyun Shim, managing director and chief executive, Kia Motors India said launching the car here.
The BS-VI-compliant vehicle has undergone extensive testing to meet the new emission norms even with the currently
available BS-IV fuel, which makes it future-proof, he said. “With the advanced set of engine, fuel and
transmission options, we are confident that Seltos can address all the unmet needs of the segment today, Shim added.
Kia has already announced its plans to launch one product here in every six month. Asserting that there will always be “short-term bumps” on the road, it sales and marketing head Manohar Bhat said the company is confident of the long-term prospects of the domestic market.
“We are not just some other manufacturer putting his stone in the water, experimenting that if business works we
will invest more and if it does not we will exit. Many such players have come and gone already. But we do not belong to that tribe at all,” he said.
“We have invested USD 1.1 billion in the plant itself. We are not experimenting. We know that this market is strong
and that we have got a good product line-up and strategy. That is why we are here and we are coming full scale, and not holding back investments,” Bhat said, adding the company has long-term plans and the present downturn does not affect its long-term thinking.
He said the price of the new vehicle has been made as attractive as possible and have nothing to with the downturn.
“I don’t think price is the function of the downturn as the prices have not come down yet. So they are not
downturn-driven, but prices which a customer will find attractive irrespective of the business situation,” he said.
Bhat said till date the company has received 32,035 bookings for the Seltos and the plant has already produced
5,000 units, which are ready for delivery now. However, other customers will have to wait for 45- 60 days to get the new vehicle, he said.
Kia will also ramp up production to meet the demand, he said adding the Seltos will also be exported to overseas
markets such as neghouring countries, South America and Africa after meeting the domestic demand.