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Korean car manufacturer, Kia Motors Corporation is all set to make its entry into the Indian automobile market. The company's plant situated in Penukonda, Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh is already on the verge of completion. Kia Motors is expected to roll out its first product, the SP Concept SUV in India around September 2019.
DriveSpark got a chance to visit the manufacturing facility recently. The plant is situated right next to the national highway, connecting Bangalore and Hyderabad. The company plant is spread over 540 acres of land, which houses the main facility along with the other factories which supply the various parts.
Kia Motors India Anantapur Plant
Kia Motors India plant in Anantapur consists of a press shop, engine & transmission units, body shop, paint booth and a final assembly line among others. Apart from the main plant area, Kia Motor is also working on setting up a new training centre, a giant test track and a township, right opposite the main factory.
The company has already invested over USD 1 billion to set-up its production plant in India. The plant is said to be 90 per cent complete and will be fully operational by August 2019. Once complete, Kia Motors will have a total production capacity of 3,00,000 units per year. The company will also create job opportunities for 10,000 workers, operating in three shifts.
The new training centre set-up in collaboration with Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) has already started to offer a skill development course. This five-day Basic Technical Course (BTC) provides all the skills necessary for an entry-level job on the factory floor.
Kia Motors India Products
Officials at Kia Motors Indiaconfirmed us during the visit that the first product to be launched in India will be the SP Concept. The Concept was first showcased in India at the 2018 Auto Expo earlier this year.
The company stated that the SP Concept will feature all the latest technology, features and equipment while staying true to the Indian heritage. The concept showcased at the Expo, came with sleek LED headlamps & DRL, along with an overall edgy design.
Kia Motors, being a part of Hyundai Motors is expected to bring in the SP Concept along the same lines as the Hyundai Creta. Both cars could have similar parts, with the production-spec SP Concept also borrowing certain parts from the Creta SUV.
In terms of engine, the Kia SP Concept is expected to be powered by the same engine as seen on the Creta. This includes a 1.6-litre petrol, a 1.4-litre or a 1.6-litre diesel engine options.
Once launched in India, the Kia SP Concept will rival the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster, Mahindra XUV500 and the upcoming Tata Harrier.
Kia officials also informed us that the SP Concept is the first in a long line-up of cars, to enter the Indian market. The company has planned to introduce a new product every six months and cover a range of different car segments in the market.
However, the company did confirm that they have no plans of introducing electric cars in India, anytime soon. They stated that the lack of infrastructure and the uncertainty of the laws towards EV in India are some of the main reasons.
Kia Motors Carnival MPV
As part of our visit to the Kia Motors India factory, we got a chance to briefly drive one of their internationally available MPV offerings - the Kia Carnival.
The Kia Carnival is a luxurious MPV and comes equipped with all the premium features and equipment expected. Some of the features seen on the Carnival include a large sunroof, three-zone climate-control and power-sliding rear doors among others.
The Carnival is offered in either a seven, eight or eleven-seater configuration. The third row of seats are extremely spacious, even managing to fit a six-foot adult with ease. The seven-seater version of the MPV comes with individual pilot-seats in the middle row, which offer ample legroom, seating comfort and headroom as well.
The MPV comes powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine, producing 200bhp of power output. The engine is further mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is extremely powerful and carries the weight of the large MPV with ease. The steering is on point and offers good feedback even at high speeds.
However, Kia officials are yet to confirm the Carnival for the Indian market, although the car has been spotted testing in India on certain occasions. If launched in the Indian market, the car will take on the likes of the popular Toyota Innova Crysta.
Kia Motors History
Kia Motors Corporation is South Korea's second-largest automobile company, after Hyundai Motor Company. The company was first started back in 1944, manufacturing steel tubing and bicycle parts.
The company got into the production of Honda-licensed small motorcycles in 1957; Mazda-licensed trucks and cars in 1962 and 1974, respectively. Kia opened up its first automobile assembly plant in 1973.
Fast forward, 2015 Hyundai bought a minority share in Kia Motors, amounting to 33.88 per cent or USD 6 billion. Kia Motors, in return, owns aminority share in various Hyundai subsidiaries as well.
The company manufacturers a total of 1.5 million vehicles from its 13 manufacturing facilities located in eight countries around the world and has a network of sales and service distributors in 172 countries. Today, the South Korean car manufacturer employs 40,000 people with an annual revenue of USD 14.6 billion.
Thoughts On Kia Motors India
Kia Motors India will be the next big automobile manufacturer to enter the Indian market. The company will first bring in the SP Concept to India, placed in a segment which already has a lot of stiff competitors.
Pricing of their products for the Indian market will be key for the South Korean company. The location of the Kia plant in Anantapur has already worked out in favour of the company, with close proximity to both; Bangalore International Airport and the Chennai Port.