Company Description: General
Motors India Private Limited is a 50:50 partnership between General Motors and
SAIC that is engaged in the automobile business in India. It is the 5th largest
automobile manufacturing company in India. The Chevrolet brand was introduced
in India by GM in 2003 and has already emerged as one of the fastest growing
automotive nameplates in the country. The Chevrolet portfolio in India includes
the Chevrolet Captiva, Chevrolet Optra, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Aveo,
Chevrolet Aveo U-VA, Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Beat and Chevrolet Tavera, and
soon-to-be launched Sail and Enjoy.
GM India has not been doing well in terms of your
products and also profitability. Do you see all these changing with SAIC
products coming in?
India is a growing brand. We have grown substantially. As a growing brand, we
are doing well even today. Last year, we sold 111,000 cars. And currently our
presence has been in mini B1 segment and lower medium segment. So we are going
to increase our product offerings to consumers by bringing in new products
which we have already showcased at the 2012 Auto Expo. We have already launched
Tavera Neo3 in both BS-III and BSIV versions. We have already revealed our new
Captiva at AutoExpo’12. Apart from that, we have shown two new Chevrolet products
i.e. Sail in the mini B2 category; the other one is MPV Enjoy.
GM India had apparently held back investing on
diesel engine plants prior to the budget. But now since there has no additional
burden on diesel models, what have you thought about it?
I would say the statement is not right because we have
invested in our powertrain plant at Talegaon much earlier. And as we had shared
earlier, we have got the first flexi-engine plant (adaptable for both petrol
and diesel engines). We have already made that investment two years back. So we
are well prepared for market dynamics and have not held back any investment for
diesel engine plant.
Some of your high-end cars like the Corvette come
in LHD configurations. Is it the primary reason that is stopping GM from
bringing them into India?
Yes, a few of our international models are available in
LHD configurations. That’s always a challenge. But from a performance point of
view, we have the relevant models like the Cruze in India. It has been the
segment leader with great performance scores. This is the car which has won
World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in 2011 once again. So from that
perspective, we have the right products which are apt for the Indian market. As
far as our high-end international products are concerned, these LHD cars are
not permissible in India.
GM India is still undecided about its Cadillac
brand in India. What are the primary reasons behind it?
we want to focus in India with the Chevrolet brand. Moreover, Cadillac doesn’t
have too many RHD configurations. So our first goal is to establish the
Chevrolet brand in India and make it extremely strong. And maybe going forward,
we may look at the opportunities at the appropriate time.
It’s a known fact that you are launching the Sail
hatchback and its sedan version here. Then what will happen to your existing
Aveo models (hatchback and sedan) which are positioned in a similar segment?
For any company, there is a product refreshment which
keeps on happening. So when these products come in, they will also be getting
into the segment where we are already present. With Aveo and the U-VA, we are
not available with a diesel option. The Sail twins will come in during the second
half of this calendar year. We will strengthen our postion in the B1 and
entry-level sedan segments. At this point of time, we do not have any plans to
phase out the Aveo models.
Could you talk a little bit about the design studio
as well as a powetrain and engineering centre that is located in Bangalore? Is
it contributing to your global operations or are they meeting only local needs?
technology centre in Bangalore, which is supporting our global programmes, is
truly international. Yes, it does support our domestic operations. But it is
also supporting worldwide operations. Similarly, we have a design studio within
the premises of the technical centre which is working on global products.
Do you see any change in buying patterns of Indian
consumers? If yes, what are they? So are you tweaking your marketing strategies
The changes in buying patterns that we have seen in the
last one year are that there has been a decline in sales of entry level cars.
This is largely due to inflation, high interest rates, rising fuel prices etc.
As their disposable incomes have come down, we see a lot of stress in the
marketplace. Car buying doesn’t remain a first priority for entry level
customers. That’s why we have seen a drop in mini B1 segment. However, being an
optimist, I look forward to a positive change coming in. I believe the interest
rates have to come down. And inflation also needs to go down. We have already
seen crude oil prices hovering at US$ 100 per barrel which could ease a little
bit. And yes, we are definitely tweaking our marketing strategies for that.
When we witness these kinds of stresses, you want to offer products which are
extremely relevant to consumers. Last year, we launched the world’s first
one-litre diesel engine in our Beat. That is also India’s most fuel efficient
car at 25.44km/litre. If you see from a product point of view, we are offering
an extremely relevant car for that segment of customers. People are very
conscious of their fuel bills. As a manufacturer, we are the only one which is
offering a 3-year/1 lakh km warranty on a mini car. Apart from that, we have
Chevrolet Promise, which is our commitment that the cost of ownership will not
go beyond a threshold. Even if it does, we will take care of it. If you see
from that perspective, we are offering a very attractive price.
How is your used car business ‘Chevy Certified
Pre-owned Vehicles Programme’ doing? How many outlets do you currently have and
how much does it contribute to your overall business?
Our ‘Chevy Certified Pre-owned Vehicles Programme’ is
doing well. We are currently available at more than 60 locations in the
country. We are building the right platform for the consumers to buy or sell
used cars. So this is still in the early stages. However, we have increased our
presence in 60+ locations. And we will keep on strengthening the same
programme. Because it is extremely important from a manufacture’s point of view
especially when we have now have a car parc of more than 5 million Chevys in
As far as your LCV business,
have you decided about any particular branding? Will they be sporting the
Chevrolet brand? Or will it be tagged as Tavera?
I would say at this point of time our complete focus is
on the MPV and MUV segments. We have already launched the Neo3 BS-IV and BSIII
Tavera. And as I mentioned earlier, we have already showcased our MPV Enjoy at
the Auto Expo. So right now we are focusing on that and the rest of the
products will follow later. We are going sell these cars under the Chevrolet
brand. Although products like the minitrucks are in the pipeline, we are
presently zeroing in on MPVs and MUVs.
Coming to your products here
in India, what are your big plans on the export front?
Right now we are focusing on catering to the domestic demand.
This is because we have fairly a bigger market here in India. We do some
marginal export to neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka,
etc. At this point of time, we would like to concentrate on the domestic
market. Once we take care of that, then we may look forward to these kinds of
Could you put a timeline for
the upcoming launches? And are you interested in bringing the Trailblazer? If
yes, will it be assembled here?
Let’s talk about our launches. The new Captiva will be
launched in due course. The Sail
hatchback and the Enjoy MPV are expected during H2 CY 2012. We would be
covering the SUV only with the Captiva. Right now, we don’t have any plans to
bring in the Trailblazer SUV. We are only exploring this segment.
Do you have any plans to
assemble the Captiva here? If yes, when? Will it be at Halol?
No, the Captiva SUV is going to be a CBU.
Lastly, you have been with GM
India for more than a decade. How would you describe the company’s transition
in these years?
I would say when I had joined GM India; we were selling
the ‘Opel’ brand. Our volumes were much lower. We used to do a few hundred cars
in a month. From that period till now, we have already reached 111,000 units a
year. We see a much stronger future with new products coming in 2012-13. I
would say the transition has been very exciting. It was a good learning
experience. We have entered into new segments and have experienced success in
them. So a car like the Beat is now selling 6,000+ units per month alone. So it
has been an exciting ride for more than a decade now.
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