MG & Kia make strong debuts in India

| Sales of MG Hector and Kia Seltos are off to a great start |

| Hector bookings cross 21,000 with MG temporarily closing bookings |

| Kia receives over 6,000 bookings for the Seltos in a day |

It's true that the automotive industry in India is going through one of it's toughest phases ever. The mere fact every car-maker out there barring one or two report double-digit drop in sales month-on-month is an indication of the bloodshed that's happening out there. This then is not the right time to enter the market, one would think.

But two brands that most people in India have unheard of are making waves out there, following two different philosophies to penetrate the market. 

Take Morris Garages, for instance. Now owned by SAIC, China's biggest car-maker, MG has been doing everything right ever since they set shop in India. Be it touting their British heritage with nary a hint of their Chinese assocation, be it striking an emotional chord with a small but loyal set of owners of classic MG models, be it their aggressive marketing tactics that kept people talking about the brand or be it the well thought-out maintenance and ownership packages that are designed to alleviate concerns potential customers might have in putting their money on a new brand, MG planned and executed their moves very well.

Backing all these efforts was their product itself, the Hector. Despite being based off a SAIC model, the Hector - endorsed by the popular British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch - never revealed it's Chinese origins which, by the way, isn't a bad thing at all. Indians love bling and MG offered that in dollops with the Hector. Indians crave for features and the vehicle is loaded to the gills and some more with them. With the largest touchscreen ever seen on an automobile in India and next level of connectivity features that's proclaimed with an 'Internet Inside' fender badge, the Hector is tech-savvy, just what the millenials want!

That the Hector's sales crossed 21,000 units within weeks of launch and bookings have been closed until further announcement is a testament to their efforts.

If you're one of those that think MG had an easy way in, thanks to GM's association with SAIC which handed the Halol plant in Gujarat on a platter to MG, what do you have to say about Kia? These folks from South Korea didn't have it easy, despite being closely-knit to Hyundai that has a strong presence and image in India.

From setting up a huge greenfield facility at Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh in record time to counting the days for their first model launch in the country, Indian arm of Kia has put in the 1 Billion Dollars sanctioned by its parent to good use over the last couple of years. The sheer scale shows the commitment and the confidence the brand has in the Indian market. Starting off with an annual capacity to make 100,000 cars, Kia has plans to scale up to 300,000 units a year within two years. Just like Hyundai, Kia has taken along quite a few of it's suppliers and made them set shop close by to solve supply chain constraints.

Though their marketing efforts thus far has been less intense compared to, let's say MG, Kia showed their might at the 2016 Auto Expo. From the Picanto hatchback to the Stinger GT premium sedan, from the Sportage crossover to the Grand Carnival MPV, the Korean brand's 16-strong model lineup brought in for the event left a lasting impression. Taking one of them and adapting it for Indian tastes and requirements would've been the easier option. But Kia didn't do that.

They came up with the Seltos, an all-new model that hits straight at a red-hot segment dominated by Hyundai. Yes, the Creta is what Seltos is aimed at. With it's distinct styling, impressive levels of fit and finish, a gamut of engine and transmission options and bucket-loads of features with many segment-firsts thrown in, the Seltos - based on the SP Signature Concept showcased earlier this year - looks set to usurp it's Hyundai sibling from the throne it currently occupies unchallenged.

Don't believe us? Get this. Bookings for the Seltos opened officially this Tuesday and by the end of the day, Kia had pocketed a whopping 6,000 deposits. And, let's not forget the pricing hasn't been announced yet!

The message then is loud and clear. The sentiments may be down, liquidity might be a problem and lending rates might be on their way up but success is in the offing if car-makers put in earnest efforts and bring in attractive models. 

While it's a great job so far by MG and Kia, the challenge now is to keep the momentum going. It's going to be interesting, let's see how they cope up!

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