Tae-Jin Park highlights the coexistence of ICE and EV vehicles in the Indian market for the next decade

Kia, the South Korean automaker, has set its sights on a 10% share of the Indian passenger vehicle market in the near future. To achieve this, they are gearing up to introduce three new products by 2025 and expanding their network to 600 touchpoints by 2028. Tae-Jin Park, the Managing Director & CEO of Kia India, shared insights into the Kia 2.0 strategy and the role of electric vehicles in India during an exclusive interview.

Q: Kia India has largely 3 UVs and one premium EV. With that, you have been able to achieve a 7% market share. How do you plan to make it 10%, which is your target?

A: Achieving a 10% market share in India is a strategic goal for Kia. We see India as a pivotal market and part of our long-term plan, being the sixth-largest market for Kia Corporation, contributing 8-9% to our global sales. To reach our target, we are committed to expanding our presence and enhancing customer experiences. Our business strategy involves launching distinctive innovations that resonate with new-age customers. We're also focused on expanding our touchpoints, with a goal of surpassing 600 by 2028. This increased physical presence will enable us to better serve our customers and access new markets.

Q: What kind of new products are you working on? Do you plan to enter any new segments?

A: The SUV market in India is currently on an upward trajectory, and we anticipate this trend will continue for the next 3-4 years. In fact, the share of SUVs in the passenger vehicles segment has already risen from 24% in 2018 to an impressive 43% in 2023. We expect this contribution to grow even further, possibly reaching 50% in the coming years. Given this promising outlook, we have plans to launch three new products next year, including a locally manufactured RV, which will encompass both ICE and EV variants.

Q: Hatchbacks and Sedans still hold ground in the Indian market. What is your view on this?

A: The automotive landscape in India has witnessed a noticeable shift in customer preferences in recent years. There has been a substantial change in the demand curve, with a clear trend moving away from hatchbacks and sedans and towards SUVs and MPVs. The latter two categories have emerged as the fastest-growing segments in India, attracting a larger customer base compared to other vehicle types. As a result, our ambition is to solidify our position as a market leader in the SUV segment. Consequently, we do not intend to introduce sedan models in the Indian market. The mid-size SUV segment is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 5% CAGR, and the overall SUV segment is likely to experience a growth rate of 3-4% (as per industry and our estimates). Our two successful products in this segment, the Seltos, and Sonet, will play a crucial role in helping us consolidate market share.

Q: What is your electrification plan for India?

A: We anticipate substantial growth in the electric vehicle (EV) market in India by 2025. However, it is our belief that internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are expected to coexist with EVs in India for another 10-15 years. This differs from the European market, where there has been a more abrupt shift from ICE to EVs. In India, the EV market is not expected to entirely replace ICE vehicles. Nevertheless, the total number of EVs in the country presents a significant opportunity for us and other players in the industry. EV sales in India could potentially account for up to 20% of passenger vehicle sales when the market reaches an annual volume of 5 million units. To facilitate this transition, we are actively working on building more charging infrastructure.

Q: What percentage would EVs contribute to your total sales?

A: In India, we anticipate that EV sales could represent 20% of total passenger vehicle sales once the market reaches the 5 million units mark annually in 2030. Consequently, we also expect a similar contribution to our overall sales to come from EVs.

Q: What about the localization of EV products in India?

A: We are committed to making India a significant production hub for EVs designed to cater to emerging markets. To fulfill this commitment, we plan to introduce our recent global innovation, the Kia EV9, and an EV version of our locally produced RV. This strategy aligns with our goal of localizing EV production in India.

Q: Any fresh investments you are pumping to expand? How much and in what areas?

A: Our investment strategy in India remains dynamic. We are determined to continue investing in innovations and manufacturing to support the future of mobility. Since the transition from ICE to EV will be gradual, we plan to make strategic investments in both of these technologies in India, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of industry developments. The specifics of these investments will continue to evolve as we progress in this dynamic and evolving market.