SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-biggest carmaker by sales, said Thursday it began the production of the Seltos sport-utility vehicle in its Indian plant.
The 300,000-unit-a-year plant in the state of Andhra Pradesh, located in the southeastern part of the subcontinent, will churn out the entry-level Seltos SUV initially for local sales, according to Kia.
Sales in the world's second-most populous country will begin later this month, a company spokesman said. The Seltos went on sale in Korea last month after it was unveiled in India.
"We have already received pre-orders for 22,000 Seltos models in India and we are planning to produce another vehicle (on top of the Seltos) in the Indian plant next year to meet local demand," he said.
The company expects the plant will be able to produce 52,000 units this year and it aims to fully operate it within three years to export Indian-made cars to the Middle East, Latin America and other Asian countries, the statement said.
Kia has strengthened its SUV lineup with competitive models to take advantage of rising demand for recreational vehicles. Kia's SUV lineup is composed of the flagship Mohave, midsize Sorento, compact Sportage, subcompact Stonic, Soul boxcar and Niro hybrid models.
The Telluride is sold only in North American markets. It is produced in Kia's U.S. plant and was launched in the U.S., the world's most important automobile market, last year.
The Seltos, developed under the project name "SP2", comes in two versions -- one with a 1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine and a fuel efficiency of 13 kilometers per liter and the other with a 1.6 diesel engine and a fuel economy of 18 km/l.
Both engines are equipped with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT). The dual clutch gearbox is quicker in terms of response when driven hard compared to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearbox.
The Seltos is the first Kia vehicle that comes with a Bose sound system and boasts of dozens of safety features, such as forward collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, safe exit assist and driver attention warning systems.
In Korea, it sells at a starting price of 19 million won (US$16,000), and the price tag goes up to 26 million won depending on options.
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