ANANTAPURAMU (AP), Dec 5: Betting big on the
country’s high potential for cars, the current downtrend
notwithstanding, South Korean major Kia would launch a luxury
multipurpose vehicle (MPV) early next year, which the company
claims will be the first-of-its-kind on Indian roads.
“In January-February we will come out with a new model
Carnival, a luxury MPV, the big car.
That segment is not available in India so far and we are
going to establish it,” Kia Motors India Vice-President
(Sales) Manohar Bhat said here on Thursday.
Talking to PTI on the sidelines of the inauguration of
Kia’s first Indian manufacturing facility at Erramanchi
village in Anantapuramu district, Bhat said Carnival would be
a “wider,bigger car than any other” in the Indian market.
“It will be a 6-8 seater and have the best features in
terms of comfort and size, which any other luxury car may not
have,” he noted.
“Customer tastes are changing and accordingly we will
bring out our vehicles. Our plan is to launch a new model
every six months,” Bhat added.
The Anantapuramu plant has a three lakh car production
“But we are now operating in only two shifts. Effectively
we are using only two-thirds of our capacity. So every six
months we will come out with a new model,” the Kia official
The vice-president said Kia would make some announcement
in the upcoming auto expo on (launching) a car in the Rs 8-10
He, however, ruled out launching a car in the Rs 5-7 lakh
“We don’t have a hatchback in our portfolio, so we will
look into it,” he added.
Seltos, the first SUV to roll out from Kia’s India plant
in August this year, has 75,000 bookings so far, which market
analysts saw as a runaway hit.
“We are very happy with the customer response and also
happy with the product (Seltos) we have delivered,” Bhat
Asked about exports from the Indian facility, he said
their top priority was India.
“Our primary focus is on the domestic market. We will
also export, but we are testing the waters right now,” he
“In India, you have 32 cars per 1000 people; in China it
is about 130. US and Europe it’s about 800-900 per thousand.
That way the potential is very high. Headroom is high (in
India),” Bhat pointed out.
On the prevailing downturn in the Indian automobile
market, the Kia official noted there was “definitely a de-
“Overall demand has fallen by 12 -13 per cent. This is a
downturn, because customer’s buying intention has decreased.
That’s because the overall economic situation is not as
good as it was 2-3 years earlier,” he said.
The overall economic growth was also not good.
“When the growth happens, the demand will also increase,”
“By the beginning of the next financial year, we should
hopefully see some improvement as the government has taken
certain steps to boost the economy,” Bhat said.
Observing that Kia currently has 260 sales and service
points across the country, the largest for any new entrant in
the market, the vice-president said they would expand the
network to fill the gaps in northeastern states, north
Telangana, parts of Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and other states.
“We want to be closer to the customer. We are being very
ambitious,” Bhat summed up. (PTI)