New Delhi: For General Motors Corp. (GM), the world’s largest carmaker, the short-term outlook remains bleak with no easing of the market challenge faced by the US auto industry.
The company sees vehicle sales declining to 14 million in 2008 from 16 million last year. GM, however, is bullish on emerging markets such as India, where sales will be driven by small cars.
In an interview, visiting GM president and chief operating officer Frederick Henderson talks about his company's priorities and plans for the Indian market. Edited excerpts:
You have set a plan to capture a 10% market share in India by 2010...
With the new facility in Talegaon (Maharashtra) going on stream, we now have a capacity to do it. We are more focused on building the brands and getting the products right.
All through 2009 and remainder of this year, we would focus on putting in the products and capabilities and launching the powertrain (engine) facility.
Small is big: Frederick Henderson, General Motors’ president, says the company’s focus in the near term would be on small and mini cars as 90% of the Indian car market is dominated by that segment. Rajanish Kakade / AP
We are not that fixated by what would be our market share by 2010. We are building up step by step in India. Currently, our market share here would be a little over 3%. We would be pleased if we can build from here.
You said you intend to bring all the products in your global portfolio to the Indian market. Can you elaborate?
Yes, we could be bringing products from the global portfolio to India. Having said that, it is all about focusing efforts and priorities. As 90% of the Indian car market is for small and mini cars, that's going to be our focus in the near term.
How do you plan to populate the segment?
The next car we plan to launch in India is a small car. I cannot comment on its exact positioning and other details now.
When do you see the India operations breaking even?
We don't comment on profitability by country, we do it by region. If we look at the Indian market financially, we have made substantial investments.
The Asia-Pacific region has played an important role in the design and engineering of your upcoming model, the Chevrolet Cruze. Any plans of launching it in India?
It's a large car for the Indian market, but considering that it's a very fuel-efficient car, we may consider it in the future.
However, as cars in that segment account only for 10%, we would rather focus on the 90%, which is dominated by small cars.
There are reports that a few Indian companies have evinced interest in the Hummer brand. How soon do you plan to finalize the sale plans?
We are looking at taking a decision on the Hummer expeditiously. It would not be appropriate to talk about the bidders at this stage.