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General Motors mulls minivan launch in India

Danny Goodman  |  New Delhi 

General Motors India will launch its light commercial vehicles, popularly called minivans, in the domestic market in the medium future. “The launch of the light commercial vehicles in association with our Chinese partners would happen in the medium term,” says Karl Slym, President & Managing Director.

Company executives say the launch of GM’s third compact car, Beat, scheduled for launch in early 2010, is top priority. “Then, we have to gear up for introduction of the petrol automatic version of the Cruze. Later, we would turn our attention to the minivan launch. It’s all at the discussion stage,” says one GM executive. Which means the roll out of GM’s minivans in the domestic market could well be after 2010.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers classifies minivans as multi purpose vehicles (MPVs), in which Maruti Suzuki’s Omni & Versa, and TataMotors’s Ace Magic, are listed. Slym says his minivans would have to be manufactured in India to be price competitive, and be available in the diesel engine option.

In China, GM (Asia Pacific) manufactures these minivans in a tripartite joint venture with two Chinese companies, Wuling and SAIC. Aided by Chinese government subsidies, GM China sells around 80,000 units of these minivans every month and commands a market share of 43 per cent in the Chinese minivan segment. Popular models are the Wuling N200 and the N 300 series. GM India officials say these are likely to be the models for the domestic market.

“Talk of models, market segmentation are all at the initial stage of discussion. There’s nothing that we can comment now. On the issue of whether it will be Chevy or Wuling badged, it’s too early to comment,” says the GM executive.

Earlier, Jonathan Browning, vice-president, global sales & marketing, of GM said: “The brand is well-suited for the Indian market. It’s definitely an opportunity for us to launch these minivans in the country, with product adjustments. Entering the light commercial vehicle market is the most logical step to strengthen our portfolio.”

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First Published: Mon, October 19 2009. 00:41 IST