There is something about the Korean culture and products that fascinates India. Be it K-pop and its bands such as BTS, or K-dramas with its romantic entanglements and intrigue, or Korean knickknacks and consumer durables, all things K are flying off the shelves. But, here we are talking of Kia—the once-bankrupt carmaker that has risen like the proverbial Phoenix from its ashes after Hyundai picked up 51% stake in 1998. Today, it remains the single biggest shareholder with a one-third (33.88%) stake. Though they are sister companies, they share distinct brand identities and also compete with each other.
In India, this eighth-largest automaker in the world, clocking $56 billion in revenues, has achieved an extraordinary feat. One that other automakers here have only dreamt about. At the annual auto jamboree in 2018, when Kia announced its plans to enter India, the-then President and CEO of Kia Motors Corporation, Han-Woo Park, sounded prophetic when he remarked: “Even though we have arrived late, we have come fully prepared.” ‘Prepared’ now seems an understatement. In just 17 months of its debut, Kia managed to sell a record 200,000 units in India. In doing so, in CY20, the Korean car maker has emerged the fourth-largest player with an overall market share of 5.8% on the back of a strong 19.1% market share in the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment.
What makes Kia’s debut sensational is that the performance comes in the midst of a pandemic that has ravaged businesses across the globe.