The Coronavirus Crisis has definitely put off many plans that automakers in India had and many new launches have been pushed ahead to a later date. That said, there are some carmakers who still are trying to meet the deadline and keep up with their commitment. Kia Motors India has too confirmed that it will not delay the launch of its upcoming subcompact SUV in India and will stick to the festive season timeline. The South Korean carmaker had unveiled the Sonet subcompact SUV in February this year at the Auto Expo 2020 and now has confirmed that the car will go on sale in India in Q2 FY2021.
Speaking to Siddharth Vinayak Patankar, Editor-In-Chief, carandbike on the latest Freewheeling with SVP webisode, Manohar Bhat, Vice President & Head of Sales & Marketing, Kia Motors India said, "The acceptance that the Sonet got at the Auto Expo was really heartening for us and we are very enthused by the response it got. So we expect to do it very well when we launch the Sonet and we are sticking to our committed time which is the Festival season during this year. We can expect it to arrive in the sometime in the August - October period." Bhat also mentioned that Kia's suppliers have already started with the production and that should not be a hindrance in the launch of the Sonet.
In fact, Kia Motors is quite optimistic about the success of the new product given that sales of compact vehicles are expected to go up as the industry gets back to normalcy and sales operations are back on the track post the COVID-19 situation. "The subcompact SUV segment is expected to gain market share in the overall industry in the post COVID period when customers are expected to where customers may not want to shift to a smaller vehicle but there budget could have been squeezed. So we feel that we are coming at a very good time with the Sonet just like we did with the Seltos," Bhat added. In fact, the recently conducted carandbike survey suggests that demand for personal mobility will increase by 15 per cent post the Coronavirus crisis situation as they tend to avoid using shared mobility and public transport, while 42 per cent buyers have reduced their budget and are now willing to go for compact vehicles.
The Kia Sonet was also spotted testing in India in April suggesting that though production and sales operation were stopped, the company continued with product development even during the lockdown as it's not intending to postpone its launch. Bhat also confirmed that the Sonet will be equipped with quite a few segment-first features. So expect the cabin to be loaded with features like ventilated seats, sun blinds, touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Kia's UVO connected car tech, auto climate control, electric sunroof, wireless charger and push-button start-stop among others. It is likely to share engine options with the Hyundai Venue, so expect the 1.2-litre petrol, a 1.5-litre diesel and a 1.0-litre GDi turbo petrol engine on offer. Transmission options will include a 6-speed manual and a DCT automatic too, which will send power to the front wheels.