MG Motor India, a wholly-owned arm of China's SAIC Motor Corp, will roll out a locally manufactured pure-electric SUV by first half of 2020, within one year of its first product launch in the country, a top company official said Monday.
The company is all set to drive in its first product, a mid-sized SUV with petrol and diesel powertrains, in the second quarter of 2019.
MG Motor would manufacture both the products at its Halol plant in Gujarat, which it acquired from General Motors last year.
"MG will launch a globally-competitive pure-electric SUV in India to make our contribution to India's energy and environmental strategies," SAIC Motor Executive Director International Business Michael Yang told reporters here.
Yang, however, did not share details regarding the size as well as range of the electric SUV.
MG Motor India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba said SAIC has proven technology in terms of EVs and the company is gearing up for a long haul in India in terms of environmental friendly products.
"It (electric SUV) is just the first product. We have proven capability in terms of EVs. Depending upon the policy and regulations scenario in India, we would take a call on launching more of such products in the country," he added.
When asked if lack of policy for EVs in India could be a deterrent for the company, Yang said "globally, there is a trend to move towards environment friendly vehicles. Indian government is pretty clear that electric is the way forward. There is no policy at the moment but we are not there (India) for short term. We are looking at the country with a long term perspective."
Terming India as an important market for SAIC, Yang said the company would try to enhance localisation content in products for Indian market keeping in mind local conditions and customer requirements.
Chaba added that the company will launch one new model in the country every year going ahead.
On plans to expand Halol plant, Chaba said manufacturing capacity at the facility could be augmented to 2 lakh units per annum from 80,000 units currently, depending upon market demand.
"We are investing USD 500 million in India by next year for the first phase. As we are in for a long term we will expand to second phase as well," he said adding this should be enough for first 3-4 years before going in for the second phase of expansion.
On the launch of its first product in India next year, Chaba said the company is ramping up all pre-launch activities, beginning with product road shows for consumers in India next month.
"This will be followed by various brand-awareness initiatives to get closer to our prospective customers. All our products will be designed and engineered in the UK and China with the support of Indian engineers," he added.
The models would be heavily localised and manufactured at Halol conforming to global quality standards and validated and customised for India to suit the Indian road and driving conditions, Chaba said.
MG Motor has also lined up around Rs 100 crore to build its own office in Gurgaon, he said adding that the premises would also have a brand store.
The automaker also plans to hire close to 1,500 employees by the end of 2019, compared with a strength of 300 employees at present.
SAIC sells over 6.5 million vehicles annually around the world. MG Motor sells a range of products, including hatchback MG3 and SUV MG GS in the European market.