Kia unveils new compact SUV in India

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 7, 2018 - 20:30
  • Updated : Feb 7, 2018 - 20:30
Kia Motors, South Korea's second-largest automaker by sales, rolled out a new compact SUV concept in India on Wednesday, heralding its full-fledged foray into the local market.

The compact SP SUV concept was showcased at the 14th Auto Expo 2018, India's largest motor show that kicked off near New Delhi for a weeklong run.

Kia said the spacious compact SUV with a sleek design is the company's strategic model specifically designed to target motorists in India where small crossovers are very popular.

Small SUVs emerged as the best-selling car model in India for two straight years, in 2016 and 2017, with sales reaching 481,000 units and 584,000 units, respectively.

The South Korean automaker said it plans to mass-produce the new compact SUV at its Indian plant, which is scheduled to start operating in September of next year.

The SP crossover will be the first vehicle produced at the Indian plant, followed by another small SUV and a compact sedan in the following three years, Kia said. 

"Kia's entry into India represents the company's stronger status as a global brand, as well as a step closer to the completion of a global production network," Kia Chief Executive Park Han-woo said at the rollout. "Kia will seek to establish a new standard in the Indian auto market through differentiated marketing and customer service."

The maker of the Soul boxcar and the Sorento SUV aims to become the fifth-biggest player in the Indian passenger car market by 2020, the CEO said. 

Kia has thus far failed to make forays into the Indian market due to tariffs of up to 60 percent imposed on imported autos.

In April last year, however, the company struck a deal to build a US$1.1 billion manufacturing plant in Anantapur, southeastern India, formally declaring its entry into India. Ground was broken for the plant in October.

On top of the compact SP SUV concept, Kia unveiled 15 other models at the motor show, including its Stinger fastback sports sedan and three eco-friendly marques.

Kia, a flagship of the world's fifth-largest automaker Hyundai Motor Group, said it plans to produce and sell three or more models in India within three to five years. (Yonhap)