Kia Motors To Launch Carnival MPV In Early 2020, Inaugurates India Plant

Kia Motors will announce a new car in the Rs 8-10 lakh bracket at Delhi Auto Expo 2020, but has no plans for a Rs 5-7 lakh car.

The Kia Carnival MPV. (Photo: Kia Motors India)
The Kia Carnival MPV. (Photo: Kia Motors India)

South Korean carmaker Kia Motors Corp. would launch a luxury multi-purpose vehicle 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 the Carnival MPV, the big car. That segment (luxury multi-purpose vehicle) is not available in India so far and we are going to establish it," Manohar Bhat, vice president (sales) at Kia Motors India, said in Anantapuramu, Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday.

Talking to Press Trust of India on the sidelines of the inauguration of Kia Motors’ first India plant at Erramanchi village in Anantapuramu district, Bhat said the Kia Carnival MPV 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 said. “The customer tastes are changing and, accordingly, we will bring out our vehicles. Our plan is to launch a new model every six months."

The new Kia India plant can produce up to 3 lakh cars, “but we are now operating in only two shifts", Bhat said. “Effectively, we are using only two-thirds of our capacity. So, every six months, we will come out with a new model.”

At the upcoming Delhi Auto Expo 2020, the company will make an announcement regarding a new car launch in the Rs 8-10 lakh bracket, but Bhat ruled out a Kia car in the Rs 5-7 lakh segment. "We don't have a hatchback in our portfolio, so we will look into it," he said.

The Kia Seltos SUV, the South Korean carmaker's first product for the Indian market, has been a runaway hit, with 14,006 units sold since launch in August and 75,000 booked so far. "We are very happy with the customer response, also happy with the product (Seltos) we have delivered," Bhat said.

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When asked about exports from the India plant, Bhat said the company’s top priority is the domestic market. “We will also export, but we are testing the waters right now," he said. "In India, you have 32 cars per 1,000 people; in China, it is about 130. The U.S. and Europe it's about 800-900 per thousand. That way the potential is very high. Headroom is high (in India).”

On the prevailing auto slowdown in India, Bhat noted there was "definitely a de-growth happening".

"Overall demand has fallen by 12-13 percent. 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. "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.”

Kia Motors, at present, has 260 sales and service points in India and plans to expand the network to fill gaps in northeastern states, North Telangana, parts of Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and other states.