In a conversation last week with Mr. Karl Slym (President and Managing Director) & Mr. P. Balendran (Vice President) of General Motors India Ltd., we have learnt that General Motors will launch the much awaited Beat LPG in January 2011. The production lines are all geared up to produce this rather awaited small dual-fuel car and consumers who are keen on a Chevrolet small car but are keeping a close eye on running costs, can choose between the smaller Spark LPG or the newer and trendier Beat LPG. Chevrolet has really turned things around for the better with their 3 Year Chevrolet Promise which offers zero-headache maintenance for the Chevrolet small car range.
In the meanwhile, their newly inaugurated Talegaon Flexi-Line powertrain plant will first start manufacturing petrol engines followed by the small diesel engine which is the one that will power the Beat. The diesel Beat is all set to be powered by a One Litre, 3-Cylinder common-rail turbocharged engine from the Fiat-GM uniJet (JTD) engine range, albeit minus a cylinder and we reckon the engine will produce about 65bhp. The beauty of the newly opened flexi-engine line is that General Motors can produce a mix-and-match of whatever type of engine they want in the numbers theyâ€™d like. At the moment they will be producing 1.6Lakh engines but have an additional capacity of 1.4Lakh engines, should they need to ramp up the production.
Currently the Talegaon car plant has a production capacity of 1.4Lakh units and additional 1.6Lakh units as expansion should they need it, so the engine plant and the car plant are perfectly complemented with a total of 3Lakh units per annum each, post expansion. General Motors India Ltd. also plan to use this new engine facility as their export base for the small new diesel engine since this is the only facility in the world which will manufacture this particular variant of the JTD engine.
With General Motors India Ltd. rapidly expanding with six new launches in the next two years, they are converting their Halol facility in Gujarat to a commercial vehicle production hub from 85,000units to 1Lakh units, and are shifting all car production to Talegaon. These six new launches will come in a total of 14 fuel variants, which means that General Motors is betting big on diesel and alternate fuel for their new products. Their investment in bio-diesel (Jathropa) research and testing will prove quite useful. With their new dealership and service outlet expansion (read recent report) General Motors India sure looks like itâ€™s on the right track with GM almost tripling their network from 80 to close to 240.
So what exactly are the new launches then? Well, there are two LCVâ€™s (one a pickup and the second a van), a hatchback, a notchback, a small car and an SUV. (Read earlier post). While we had all hoped for the all-new Aveo just launched at the Paris Motorshow, itâ€™s not going to make it here just yet. And neither is Cadillac! General Motors India Ltd. believes that a 90% localization of parts is critical to its success in such a growing and fiercely competitive market, which is why they are stating a 24month timeframe to launch all these new models. The first quarter of 2011 will also see the new facelifted Chevrolet Tavera with a BS IV compliant engine from ICML. This will be a 2Litre common rail turbodiesel engine producing 120bhp. They will also showcase an all new Chevrolet Electric mini-car in April 2011, standing firm on their commitment to have more environmentally friendly products. Thereâ€™s also a fair chance that the ever-popular Chevrolet Spark may come with smaller engines making it significantly more competitive in the small car space. Stay tuned for more.