In a bid to gain control of the small car segment that is gaining popularity among the “rapidly expanding middle class”, General Motors on 17 April launched its first mainstream minicar, Chevrolet Spark, to take on market leader Maruti Suzuki.
The price of the new model has been pegged at Rs3.09 lakh for the base model, slightly lower than Rs 3.21 lakh for Maruti’s Zen Estillo base model. So far, GM has sold two million units of the small car globally and will initially roll out Spark for India from its Halol manufacturing facility in Gujarat. GM India officials said the Spark has been finetuned to suit Indian conditions.
Approaching its 100th anniversary in 2008, General Motors is all set to gain a strong foothold in emerging markets across the world and primarily in Asia Pacific that is predicted to account for nearly 70% of global automotive sales growth. Rick Wagoner, chairman, General Motors, is currently on a mission to India with this purpose in view.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the CII, Wagoner sounded positive about India’s role in global auto industry as a great market and also as a great resource. As for India’s association with his company, he stated right at the outset, “India is an important country to General Motors’ business strategy”.
“Next decade, India will be the second-fastest growing automobile market in world... it till be important for GM to do well in emerging markets such as India for its future,” he added.
“From long lost friends to strategic partners” is how Madhur Bajaj, President, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), described the deepening relationship between India and US. It is within this umbrella of growing friendship between the two nations that GM plans to nestle itself and grow to maximum possible extend in India’s booming automobile market.
Wagoner expressed satisfaction over the high level of government representation at the meeting. “We view governments as crititcal partners in all the countries we live and work in,” he said. He was appreciative of the government’s 10-year “Automotive Mission Plan 2006-2016” which the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Santosh Mohan Dev assured was the most comprehensive policy document for the automotive sector.
The minister also briefed the gathering on another major initiative of the government, the National Automotive Testing and Research and Development Implementation Project (Natrip) which would ensure Indian Automotive Industry a distinct edge amongst the newly emerging automotive destinations.
Calling his India experience great and a ‘jewel’ in the GM family,Wagoner attributed the attraction of the Indian market to Indian manufacturing costs which are extremely competitive and among the lowest in the world, in addition to the Indian attitude that abhors waste.
Spelling out the business strategy of the company in India and in the interest of companies of all stripes present at the meeting Wagoner pointed out, “one size does not fit all when it comes to entering emerging markets”. He stressed the importance of a tailored and focussed strategy for each new market and of “getting local” as fast as possible.“General Motors” he concluded “is eager to participate in India’s growth, while at the same time, contributing to India’s expanding economy.”