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Bullish on the long-term growth prospects of the Indian car market, South Korean automaker Kia plans to introduce new models, enhance sales network and also ramp up production capacity to reduce the waiting period on the existing product range, as per senior company officials.

The carmaker, which currently sells three products, Seltos, Sonet and Carnival, is preparing to drive in a mid-sized multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) in the country early next year as it expects the market to start recovering from the Covid-19 impact from the festive season this year.

“We are right now focusing on SUV and MPV segments and as part of that, we are looking at the feasibility of some kind of a MPV. So we are looking at that possibility and preparing," Kia India Executive Director and Chief Sales and Business Strategy Officer Tae-Jin Park told PTI in an interaction.

The company already sells a premium MPV, Carnival, and is now looking to bring in a mid-sized product to garner volumes.

When asked if the company is also considering launching an electric vehicle in the country, Park said that with the government focusing on the segment, the company is also looking at the market situation intently.

“What I can say right now is that we are analysing what kind of an EV can be launched in this market. We have not finalised it yet but we are looking at it," he noted.

With the Covid-19 situation deteriorating and impacting auto sales, Park hoped for an improvement in the situation by the festive season.

“The current situation is impacting sales but we already have some experience from last year so it will not take a very long time. We will overcome this difficult time. I think maybe before the festival season the market will recover again," he said.

Elaborating on the situation, Kia India National Head of Sales and Marketing Hardeep Singh Brar said the market has been very resilient so far.

“One thing which is different ... is that last year there was a complete lockdown and now there are partial lockdowns so the overall impact on business is less as compared with last year," he said.

He, however, cautioned that if things remain the same then there is definitely going to be an impact on the industry volumes.

“From our perspective, we are purely dependent on how much we are able to produce and whatever we are producing we are able to sell because of the long waiting period on products," Brar said.

He added that the company is now looking to ramp up production further as well as enhance penetration in smaller towns.

“We are looking at how we can ramp up our production further to reduce the waiting period so that we can offer cars to customers at the earliest. We are planning to do it over the next couple of months so it requires few things like an increase in manpower, an increase in logistics capability etc," Brar said.

He noted that “everything seems to be under control and we seem to be headed towards that but one thing which is not certain is the global supply chain."

“Semiconductor supply is a question mark so if that is solved in the next couple of months; we will be able to increase the production by July. We are ready to go ahead in the next few months," he added.

Currently, the company's Anantapur-based manufacturing plant has an installed production capacity to roll out 3 lakh cars per annum.

On sales network expansion Brar noted: “Our plan is to have 350 dealerships this year. We are close to 300 number right now. So the plan is to increase the network by 50 odd outlets especially in Tier 3, Tier 4 areas. We have a lot of demand coming from those markets."

The company last week unveiled its new branding strategy in India.

Removing the 'Motors' from its name, Kia now aims to expand into new and emerging business areas by creating innovative mobility products.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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