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Kia Motors planning for an India-specific electric vehicle

Consumer-related vehicle inputs such as body preference, battery range, price and other issues are being sent to Kia’s headquarters in South Korea

December 06, 2018 / 12:51 PM IST
Kia SP Concept

Kia SP Concept

Korean car maker Kia Motors, which is ready to roll out its first car in India before Diwali next year, is also contemplating an India-specific electric vehicle to be part of its line-up.

Consumer-related vehicle inputs such as body preference, battery range, price and other issues are being sent to Kia’s headquarters in South Korea from India to help design a product that is best suited for Indian buyers.

Speaking to Moneycontrol Manohar Bhat, Vice President (Marketing and Sales), Kia Motors India, said, “We have something like an India-specific electric vehicle which in under planning stage. That work is going on in Korea”.

This is the first time that a multinational car maker is developing an electric vehicle specifically for the Indian market. Several other automakers have developed EVs but for the global audience.

Hyundai is bringing to India next year its global electric SUV Kona while MG Motor has promised to launch an e-SUV in 2020. Suzuki and Toyota are working on a global solution together. Renault too is planning to bring in the electric Kwid that is to be launched in China.

Kia is looking to launch its first electric vehicle in India in 2021. By that time it would have launched at least two models powered by petrol and diesel engines in the county. The management has committed to launch one new model every six months in India.

The first such vehicle will be based on the SP Concept, a mid-size sports utility vehicle showcased at the Auto Expo 2018. Bhat added that this yet unnamed SUV will fall in the price bracket of Rs 10-16 lakh and will compete against the Renault Duster, Hyundai Creta and the upcoming Nissan Kicks.

It would later look at launching a sub-four meter compact SUV, a multi-purpose vehicle and also a premium SUV measuring more than 4.5 meter in length.

Kia has a development centre in Hyderabad on the lines of the Renault-Nissan development centre. The primary responsibility of the centre, which employs 1,000 engineers, is to localise global products and make them suitable for India conditions and buyer preference.

Based on the product portfolio it has the company is confident of hitting full production capacity at its plant in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh in the next three years. It has earmarked total investment of Rs 6,500 crore for setting up a 3 lakh units per year factory that will start production in September next year.

“We will have a dealership footprint like nobody else who had started off in India. It will be very different. We are expecting market to hit 4.5 million units in the next three years. By that time we should be able to 3 lakh units in India per year,” Yong S Kim, Executive Director (Sales & Marketing), Kia Motors India.

Kia has handed over three electrified vehicles to the Andhra Pradesh government for trial runs. Three different versions of the Kia Niro -- fully electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid -- will be used by state government officials.

Among state governments, Andhra Pradesh has shown maximum interest in promoting green mobility. It aims to become the first state to run 10 lakh electric vehicles by 2023 and attract investments of Rs 30,000 crore by electric vehicle and charging station companies.
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Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Dec 6, 2018 12:51 pm