Kia Motors India expects trial production of its first model -- SUV SP Concept -- to begin at its Andhra Pradesh-based plant this month as it gears to launch the vehicle by mid 2019, a company official said.
The company, a subsidiary of South Korean auto major Kia Motors, is in the final stages of commissioning the manufacturing facility with an annual installed production capacity of over 3 lakh vehicles.
It is also in the process of establishing a pan-India sales network for its upcoming models.
"We are confident that the plant will be fully operational soon with an annual installed production capacity of over 3 lakh vehicles. We expect the trial production of SP2i cars, our first offering for the Indian market to start by end of January," Kia Motors India Head of Marketing and Sales Manohar Bhat told PTI.
The company plans to start selling the SUV, that was first showcased at the Auto Expo last year, from the middle of this year. The model is currently being tested for Indian conditions.
The company has plans to launch one model every six months and is investing over USD 1 billion to set up the plant at Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, which will be Kia Motors' 15th facility across the globe.
Commenting on sales network, Bhat said the company aims to have a pan-India network covering major cities and even smaller towns.
"We are of course, looking at a pan-India network presence including tier 1,2 and 3 cities so that we are close to the customer. We plan to open Kia exclusive facilities that symbolise our best in class service experience," he said.
Kia Motors intends to have the largest ever network for any new entrant in the Indian market, he added.
"Our presence across the country will ensure coverage of 85-90 per cent of the leading car buying cities right at the onset of our sales journey," Bhat said.
In order to cater to needs of customers across the country, the company is looking to have four regional offices.
Bhat said the company is still evaluating its options regarding the brand ambassador in India.
"Ace Tennis player Rafael Nadal is our global brand ambassador. That being said, at the moment, we are evaluating our options with respect to the face of the brand in India," he said.
When asked if the company would have any synergies with Hyundai India, Bhat said: "If you consider how the industry works, there are common vendors at times and we are sourcing parts from multiple OEMs. In case of Kia also there would be vendors who supply parts to other competing manufactures; there would be no particular synergies with any specific manufacturer."
He added that the company will look at localisation in a big way to manage cost efficiency.
"While our vendor parks around the plant are ready to support our production, we will be sourcing products from other vendors around the country too," Bhat said. PTI MSS MR ANU ANU ANU