Kia recently launched the new Carens in India with prices starting at a very aggressive Rs 8.99 lakh (ex-showroom). The carmaker also revealed that it had received over 19,000 bookings for the ‘recreational vehicle’. The brand, however, has now confirmed to us that over 50 percent of these bookings were for the diesel Carens.
Carens diesel, automatic sees strong initial demand
Speaking to Autocar India, Hardeep Singh Brar, VP and head of sales at Kia India, said, “Because there aren’t too many diesel engine options in this kind of category, we are clearly seeing an excess of 50 percent demand for the diesel variant.”
Given its pricing, the Carens will see direct competition from models such as the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and XL6 (both due for a facelift) and the Mahindra Marazzo. The former two are only available with petrol engines – CNG, too, in the case of the Ertiga – while the slow-selling Marazzo is diesel only. The Carens also undercuts the more expensive Innova Crysta, along with much of the three-row SUV segment including its cousin the Hyundai Alcazar.
These factors could be playing in Kia’s favour in terms of demand, with three-row vehicle buyers offered little by way of choice for a diesel car in the lower price spectrum of the existing MPV market.
Brar also revealed that the automatic and top-spec variants too were receiving their fair share of interest. “Another interesting trend is the high demand for top-end vehicles. Bookings for the automatic versions are also more than 50 percent,” he said.
Third shift to reduce waiting periods
Brar also revealed that the company is looking to further ramp up production at its plant with the introduction of a third shift in March in order to bring down waiting periods.
“We’ll have higher volumes with the help of a third shift. So, last year we did about 2,25,000 units, both domestic and export put together. This year, we are looking at crossing 3,00,000 units.”
According to dealers, the waiting period for the Carens – depending on the engine-gearbox combination and variant – is already in the region of 14 weeks. The third shift will hopefully see this number reduced, along with the waiting period for the company’s other locally manufactured models, like the Sonet and Seltos, which have also witnessed long waiting periods.
The carmaker is also confident of strengthening its semiconductor supplies, with Brar suggesting that supplies could improve from the second quarter of the year.