Chennai: In a short span of time, India has emerged as a key market for Kia globally. Right from production to talent, the brand relies on this country heavily, with its manufacturing unit in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, playing a big role. Tae-Jin Park, ED-Chief Sales and Business Strategy Officer, Kia Motors India, shares insights with DTNext on the brand's growing popularity in the continent.
India as a market
The market is extremely important to us not only from a business growth point of view but also on the production, talent and corporate front. Our manufacturing unit in Anantapur will continue to be a standard export hub for compact and mid-sized SUVs. We have emerged as India's youngest automotive disruptor with a strong market share of almost 6 per cent of the passenger vehicle market in India. Akin to other developed markets, Indian market too needs continuous research to be relevant. Exports are over 15 pc of our total production and we are targeting to reach 20 pc in 2021. India, with its business-friendly environment and low car penetration of 22 per 1000 individuals, promises to be a major volume driver for us and other OEMs too.
Sales for India
The year 2020 offered a learning curve for everyone across the auto sector. The initial phase of lockdown impacted sales for all automakers; however, with the launch of Sonet in the H2 of the year, we bounced back and posted good sales. Kia maintained a strong position in the Indian automobile industry with the sales of over 1,40,000 units, becoming fourth most sold PV brand in 2020. The latest offering, Sonet continues to be the highlight of the year for Kia with consistent dominance in the market with over 38,000 sales in just over 3 months. Kia's first product for India, Seltos, entered the list of top 10 most sold PVs in 2020 with the sales of close to 97,000 units. It witnessed a strong Q1 in 2020, selling almost 40,000 vehicles. However, the pandemic did affect our Q2 business initially. With two offerings in the SUV category, Kia is now a formidable force in the Indian automobile industry.
In just over 17 months of sales operation, Kia has cemented its position in the list of top 5 auto manufacturers in the country. The brand has sold over 2,00,000 vehicles in India with Seltos approaching 1,50,000 sales milestone. Since our first product launch in August 2019, we observed 60 per cent of our customers opt for the top variants of Sonet, Seltos and Carnival. The newest technology in India in terms of engine and transmission, the iMT is also gaining a lot of popularity among our Sonet buyers. Most of our customers prefer their vehicle to be financed.
At Kia, it is our ambition to lead the zero-emission mobility in global markets. We are making significant investments in future mobility and creating strong foundations and are also working towards launching our first product under Plan S to the global markets by 2021. India is at a very nascent stage for EV adoption. Electric Vehicles are like a completely new technology altogether, which requires strong foundations for people to adapt.