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GM looks to sell 4,000 electric cars

Devjyot Ghoshal  |  Kolkata 

‘Green’ vehicle set to hit Indian roads next yr

Leveraging its early-mover advantage in the domestic electric car space, American automaker General Motors (GM) will look to sell at least 4,000 units annually of its ‘green’ vehicle, set to hit the Indian roads next year.

The automobile giant had signed an agreement with Bangalore-based Reva Electric Car Company last month to develop an electric version of GM India’s volume driver, the Chevrolet Spark.

By the arrangement, while GM India will utilise its capability to develop platforms and take care of the manufacturing side, Reva’s experience in developing electric drive-trains and control systems will be harnessed. While the Detroit-based firm has remained tight-lipped on its investment in this project, it has indicated it will be able to recover costs if it can sell between 4,000-6,000 units of the electric Spark.

“Over five years, we expect 5 per cent of the total mini-car market to be taken over by electric vehicles. For GM India, our investment into this project can be covered if we can sell (the electric version) between 10-15 per cent of all the Spark vehicles sold in India,” GM India Vice-President (Sales & Marketing) Ankush Arora said. He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Chevrolet Cruze, the brand’s newest domestic offering, in Kolkata.

In all, the automaker expects to sell about 40,000 units of the Spark in India this year.

The electric car would be developed domestically, explained Arora, but would incorporate technologies from across GM’s global technical centres. The auto major has four such facilities in India, including one in Bangalore.

He further said launching a green product in a virgin market such as India was an uncertain proposition, but maintained an ideal mix of practicality and affordability would prove successful. “A section of buyers is prone to buying green. Being an early mover, we have time to establish ourselves. And also, we think that the market is ready to experiment with an affordable mini-electric vehicle,” Arora said.

GM India has not revealed the proposed price of the electric Spark. It will have to consider that Reva has an electric car priced at about Rs 4 lakh, apart from the infantile state of the Indian green-car market. Chevrolet Volt, GM’s plug-in electric offering in the US, has been flayed for being too expensive.

First Published: Sun, October 25 2009. 00:36 IST