The launch of the Kia brand in India – and, in turn, their first model, the Seltos – has to be one of the best planned and executed launches in the history of the Indian market.
Kia is part of the Hyundai Motor Group, and it’s no secret that the Koreans understand this market extremely well. After all, Hyundai is the only global brand that’s been able to give Maruti Suzuki a run for its money. You know that a brand knows what it’s doing when it can use a recessionary market environment, such as the one that’s prevailing at present, to increase market share and further strengthen their position – which is exactly what Hyundai has done with the launch of its sub-four-metre SUV, the Venue.
Kia has, of course, benefited from the success that Hyundai has achieved in the Indian market. After all, the global CEO of Kia – H.W. Park – was once the MD of Hyundai Motor India. And the man responsible for planning the sales and marketing strategy for Kia in India – Y.S. Kim – was also previously part of Hyundai Motor India. This has undoubtedly given them some very valuable insights into this challenging market – which, in the recent past, has shown the door to powerhouses like General Motors.
To start with, Kia has already invested Rs. 7,000 crore in India – the majority of which has gone into a 300,000-unit state-of-the-art greenfield manufacturing facility in Andhra Pradesh. On the sales and marketing front, they appear to be making all the right moves as well – right from their communications strategy to establishing a comprehensive dealer network from the outset. But the real trump card, of course, is their debut model for India – the Seltos SUV.
The success of the Creta not only allowed Hyundai to gain volumes and market share, but it also propelled their margins to a stratosphere that a reliance on small cars alone would never have been able to. And so, in choosing the Seltos SUV – which is based on the next-generation Creta chassis – Kia was very clever in entering the market with a product that would not only allow them to position the brand as being aspirational, but also enable them to take full advantage of the SUV craze that’s afflicting the market at present.
The Seltos, which is an all-new global model for the brand, is a very deliberate and calculated choice – as is everything they’ve done when it comes to entering India – right from tailoring the product to sit in a sweet spot to ensuring that the product itself exceeds all expectations in its final avatar.
The Hyundai Motor Group has been the fastest growing automaker globally over the past couple of decades, and it appears that they’ve now really begun to hit their stride. As far as India is concerned, they’ve understood the fact that there are no second chances, and there can be no half measures – something that most other manufacturers failed to comprehend, and perhaps still do.
The Koreans have demonstrated a single-minded focus and gone for the jugular – of the market, not the customer. The Indian customer, consequently, is the beneficiary of a new wave of world class, feature-rich, high quality machines that redefine their respective segments. The competition has been warned!
Also read - Kia Seltos Review