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IN CONVERSATION WITH Mr. ANISH LAMICHHANE | AGM – SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMOTIVE DIVISION |CONTINENTAL TRADING ENTERPRISE PVT. LTD

IN CONVERSATION WITH Mr. ANISH LAMICHHANE | AGM - SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMOTIVE DIVISION |CONTINENTAL TRADING ENTERPRISE PVT. LTD

Kia Motors, having been around for 25 years in Nepal, have made a huge legacy for itself. The Kia Sportage, one of their longest running nameplates, has been a key player in establishing that said legacy and with the recent launch of the updated Sportage, the product has been doing great in the Nepalese market. With that being said, we got to talk with Mr. Anish Lamichhane, Assistant General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Automotive Division at Continental Trading Enterprise Pvt. Ltd., on the current situation of the brand in the market. With the new Sportage and Niro EV in the future, we also got to know how the Kia legacy is going to be continued. And upon our conversation on the EVs we went on to discuss about how these vehicles would bring about a change for better in the transportation scenario. So, let’s dive in and see what he has say.

BEEN FOR KIA MOTORS IN NEPAL?
Recently, we introduced the new Kia Sportage and that coupled with the Soul EV series have been parallel in terms of sales and the results have been more than satisfactory. When we talk about previous situation, there was not much movement in terms of sales as the people lacked various options but this, however, has drastically changed in the past year as now we are one of the biggest players in the imported automobile market in Nepal which is mainly because of the two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive diesel option of the Sportage. We have dominated a huge portion of the market through the contribution of these two and we are still working towards broadening this segment. We are also bringing in two wheel automatic petrol line and GT line through the regular imports which means have four Sportage models. This will definitely push the brand further in the Nepalese market in terms of sales. Also, we will be officially launching the Niro EV soon but the best part is that we already have two consignments booked for the vehicle. So, I must say that is the current scenario.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAIN GOALS FOR KIA AT THE MOMENT? HOW ARE YOU PLANNING TO EXPAND THE BRAND AS A WHOLE?
The year 2019 is going to be very exciting for us as many things will be tested. We will be launching the Niro EV soon and with that we are looking to expand the electric line which then include two models one of them being, the Soul EV. We will also start importing Kia’s Indian production by this year’s NADA, one of which is going to be SPI2 concept. The drive production has already begun and a communication has already been established with our Indian manufactures. Initially, we were not able to play in the price brackets of other competitors but after introduction of Kia’s Indian productions we hope to be a prominent player in this bracket. We are also planning to introduce a new car from India, which hasn’t been disclosed yet will probably be a compact sedan in the Rio platform.

ALSO, WITH THE RECENT INTRODUCTION OF THE KIA SPORTAGE, HOW HAVE YOU PLANNED TO MARKET AND POSITION THE PRODUCT IN THE NEPALESE MARKET?
To have an overlook of the current market situation, let’s take the example of sub-compact vehicles, CUV and other Indian imports which have been in the market since 2015 with a huge customer base. Now, the customers are looking for an upgrade. To maintain their satisfaction and our customer base, we are planning one step ahead. The situation right now is that imported cars are getting expensive by day, with some vehicles being priced at 1 Crore or more. So, we are placing the Sportage in between those range and sub-compact vehicles and the responses we have been getting of two wheel drive Sportage is amazing.

HOW MUCH OF THE MARKET SHARE ARE YOU PLANNING TO CAPTURE WITH THE SPORTAGE?
If we are taking the current market situation, we have around 35% of the market share in this segment because of the 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive. What we are planning is to introduce vehicles, namely, the 2 wheel automatic drive and the GT line of the Sportage, both fully loaded and these will be within the 1 crore price range. Through these, we plan to capture 50% of the market share.

HOW HAVE YOU PLANNED TO GO ON ABOUT THE AFTER SALES SERVICE OF THE VEHICLES? ALSO, CAN YOU GIVE US AN INSIGHT ON THE SERVICE PHILOSOPHY OF KIA?
We are very serious about the entire after sales service and not just for the Sportage. Kia as a product has proven to be good but the main complaints our customers used to have were the lack of spare parts and service centers. We have taken that into consideration seriously and we are tackling that by opening two new service centers, one in Jawalakhel and another one in Maharajgunj in the next two months. Both will be 3S centers and will address a lot of questions and problems from our customers. We are also upgrading our nationwide service networks and as we speak, constructions are going on. You will be able to see a lot of difference within two months.

TALKING ABOUT EVS, HOW WILL YOU BE CONTRIBUTING TO TAKE THIS SEGMENT FURTHER IN NEPAL?
Speaking about EVs, we first launched a highway capable passenger car, the Soul EV. But for it to work accordingly we need charging stations and we are the only brand that has installed fast charging stations on highways all over Nepal. These have been used by our customer on a regular basis and after launching Niro, we are planning to extend even further and install charging stations all the way to the east, considering the 480 Km range of Niro. We have already installed charging stations in almost all the major cities as well. Also, as mentioned earlier, we will be expanding our product lineup as well so that with this increase in volume, our customers will be able to feel more secure. We keep updating our technical team on a frequent basis giving them trainings to work on EVs. We have been selling EVs for the last year and a half and that has given us a lot of valuable experience, making us more confident in this field. This segment is a completely new market for Nepal but we have experienced and capable manpower to overlook its maintenance, and the precautions we have to take while maintaining the vehicles. We are heading to the future with that in our mind.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE GROWTH OF EVS AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR EVS?
Honestly speaking, we do not know. There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered, in terms of resale value, electricity supply and how much support are we going to get from the government. But if we are given the right situation, electric is the future. It is more powerful than combustion engines, more economical and you have to deal with a lot less stressful situations when you are driving EVs. It produces less noise and is environment friendly. So, logically, EV is the direction we should be heading into. We already have two consignments booked for Niro which just means that people are being more and more intrigued by the EV technology and trusting it. EV vehicles have been introduced in the past but people are looking for quality products, which we are planning to provide. If the people were given the choice of an alternative they would obviously take that option. For now, people consider EV vehicles as a second option but that is slowly changing with people taking EVs in consideration for their first vehicle and after a few years almost all the cars will be electric if everything goes well.

CAN YOU GIVE US MORE INSIGHT ON THE UPCOMING NIRO EV?
The Niro line, we are about to launch is going run on a 64 kW battery meaning it will have a 480 Km range. This range will make you capable for driving it in a nationwide aspect. As a product, Niro has received good response globally and we are experiencing similar response here as well. It has given us an edge over our competitors, as it has a more premium quality feel to it and is more spacious; with 451 ltrs of boot space similar to Sportage and is only 5 inches smaller than Sportage. So as a product, it is very premium and will go on to set new benchmarks in the EV segment. I believe that Niro will meet the expectations of our customers and hopefully it will replace combustion engine cars in its segment and become the primary alternative to the automotive market.

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