India is home to the largest tiger habitat in the world. Today, we house 70% of the world’s tiger population and the growing tally is almost 3000. Project Tiger was launched in 1973 with just nine tiger reserves. Today, India has over 50 tiger reserves spread over 72,000 sq km. Generally, big cats are fast breeders if conditions are conducive.
Now, you must be wondering why this piece of information features in a car article. A very apt thought at first sight; but as we dig deeper we’ll find the success of a car tied together to this very foundation.
Interestingly, tiger census happens through AI. Fantastically enough, India’s latest Tiger Census activity was included in the Guinness World Records. For this they set up around 25,000 camera traps, capturing over 35 million phenomenal pictures.
While our tiger was happily breeding away in his controlled habitat, a Korean carmaker ran to the ground and declared bankruptcy. These situations inherently make for great bargains and another carmaker of Korean descent bought a considerable stake in the bankrupt company. Now, one company had a considerable share in the Indian car market. So, the natural progression ensured that the bankrupt company was introduced to the market where the benefactor enjoyed a great deal of success.
The bankrupt company, of course, not bankrupt anymore, thanks to the influx of funds, set up a manufacturing plant in the state of Andhra Pradesh and began road testing their product on ‘actual’ Indian roads. This was fantastic as most international cars are not built for Indian road conditions and the adaptations made for them to function on our roads are mostly through simulators. First strike to the not-so-bankrupt carmaker.
Controlled environment. Check
Next was the bold step to enter the SUV market. Well, that is big cat territory, isn’t it? So what would our not-so-bankrupt carmaker do?
They decided to go after the biggest cat, and our national pride. They simply went ahead and fashioned their car’s front grill around the tiger. The stance was immediately majestic. The designers didn’t stop there and went about their task quietly and forged the rest of the car to mirror the magnificent beast. The final product was a bold statement coupled with best-in-segment frills and fancies. We now had a car that was great to look at, had 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, HAC, VSM and a few more dangerous sounding words that most experts would describe in a passionate frenzy. Additionally, the engineers at the not-so-bankrupt company used advanced high strength steel (AHSS) fortifying the machine’s core and keeping the occupants safe in the event of a crash. The powertrain, or simply the ‘engine’ is powerful enough to get you through in comfort; and yeah, so are the interiors. Comfortable. The car also has both, automatic and manual transmission, conforming to the preferences of the Indian driving audience.
Market ready product. Check
Kia motors’ first offering in India, the Seltos, was a great product launched in a controlled environment. Now was the time to set up camera traps and leverage on the benefactor’s widespread service network, second only to the legendary Maruti.
Service network a.k.a camera traps. Check
The official launch. Find someone named ‘Tiger’ who is a celebrity and get him to endorse the car. What a fantastic little plot. And Kia did just that; with a brilliant execution strategy to boot.
The boldly designed tiger nosed front grill, the brilliantly balanced, minimalistically clean exterior design, the first in segment 8-inch Heads Up Display, among other fancy gizmos, AVN system, ventilated and power seats, multifunction steering wheel, eco coating, smart pure air and ambient mood lighting makes the Seltos a feature packed little SUV. The ride and engine performance won’t blow you away. But it’s honest and does the job quite efficiently. But the best thing is that it does it while looking dapper. The pricing is great and will definitely appeal to most, given the all-round performance and a fantastic, well spread service network.
A humble beginning for the big cat, and the built-in-India knowledge is a massive plus in making the crowded Indian market conducive for expansion. Expect the big cat to breed fast. The Seltos might not make it to the Guinness book, but the car has definitely made its way into people’s hearts.
The tiger may be an endangered species, but the Kia Seltos, with its swashbuckling tiger nosed grill, could soon put a few carmakers into the endangered list.