Home >Auto News >Auto Expo 2020: Chinese automakers gear up for aggressive entry into India
MG Motor India chief commercial officer Gaurav Gupta (left), and president and CEO Rajeev Chaba at the launch of the Marvel X sport-utility vehicle at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida on Wednesday. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
MG Motor India chief commercial officer Gaurav Gupta (left), and president and CEO Rajeev Chaba at the launch of the Marvel X sport-utility vehicle at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida on Wednesday. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Auto Expo 2020: Chinese automakers gear up for aggressive entry into India

  • SAIC Motor, Great Wall, Haima debut at auto expo even as incumbents announce a slew of new car launches
  • Great Wall Motors plans to set up a manufacturing unit for li-ion batteries as well as internal combustion engines in India

Top Chinese carmakers SAIC Motor Corp., Great Wall and Haima Automobile made their debut at the auto show on Wednesday, signalling plans to move in aggressively into the world’s fourth-largest auto market.

Incumbents Tata Motors Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M) and Hyundai Motor India Ltd have also geared up for the challenge by announcing several new vehicles launches in the near to mid-term.

MG Motor India Pvt. Ltd, a unit of SAIC, plans to roll out at least half a dozen new vehicles through 2025, to add to its existing Hector sport-utility vehicle and the ZS electric SUV. Great Wall and Haima said they would launch new vehicles in India in the next few quarters.

MG’s new products include a 6-7 seater multi-utility vehicle (MUV), a full-sized SUV named Gloster, and also an undisclosed model that it expects would drive volumes starting next year.

“We had initially spoken about four product launches in the first 2 years, and thereafter one new product every year until 2025," Rajeev Chaba, managing director, MG Motor India told Mint. The fourth product is slated for commercial launch in the first quarter of 2021.

“The product range that we are showcasing at the auto expo includes almost all those vehicles that for us are possible to launch here. In a way, we are also trying to assess the feedback," said Chaba.

MG is showcasing 14 vehicles across different body types to demonstrate its capabilities on its product line up and technologies on offer in global markets.

The company, on Wednesday, unveiled its SUV named Marvel X which demonstrated new upcoming technologies such as connected, electric and autonomous capabilities. However, MG Motor did not disclose specific plans of bringing it to India. Other cars on display included models such as eMG6, RC6, 360M and MG3, which are sold in other markets. The company is carefully stitching its product strategy, which largely involves its intent to bridge the gap between the mainstream and luxury brands by tapping the 30-50 lakh price range.

“I think MG will try to be that bridge. It won’t be big numbers but won’t be small numbers too," Chaba said.

Meanwhile, Great Wall Motors, China’s largest SUV maker, unveiled its Haval brand entity and concept ‘Vision 2025’ on the first day at the auto expo. It has earmarked around 7,000 crore for its India operations under a phased manner that includes investments made in acquiring General Motors’ Talegaon (near Pune) plant, product development, production power batteries and electric drive units, and also manufacturing of key components.

Great Wall also plans to invest in setting up a manufacturing unit for lithium-ion batteries as well as internal combustion engines (petrol, diesel) and their components in India.

“India has become one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, and the auto market is promising, making it a preferred investment destination for most auto companies," said Hardeep Singh Brar, director, sales and marketing of India operations of Great Wall Motors.

Brar said the company plans to offer a wide range of SUVs targeting young buyers.

“Fundamentals are very simple. We want to be in the SUV and the EV segments. Growing SUV segment makes it a perfect scenario for us to enter this market," Brar said in an interview.

China’s Haima also marked its debut at the biennial event through an alliance with local partner Bird Electric, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bird Group. Haima showcased a five-seater electric hatchback named Bird Electric EV1, which the company said would be sold at 10 lakh when it goes on sale later this year. Haima plans to initially assemble the electric small car from imported completely knocked down (CKD) kits, following with localisation by end-2021, Ankur Bhatia, director, Bird Electric said.

The EV would be offered in two variants with driving range of 200km and 300km per charge. “The first lot of Bird Electric EV1 would take at least 12-15 months for the roll out," the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran announced that building an ecosystem for sustainable mobility is the top priority for Tata Motors.

“We are able to bring seven Tata group companies to build a sustainable mobility ecosystem with focus on electric, shared and connected vehicles," Chandrasekaran said.

Chandrasekaran said the company plans to launch at least four new electric cars over the next 18-24 months. Tata Motors recently launched the Nexon EV, which marks its second offering in the electric mobility space, and is its first targeting the personal vehicle segment.

To build the electric mobility ecosystem, group companies such as Tata Power, Tata AutoComp, Tata Chemicals, Tata Consultancy Services and others will collaborate with Tata Motors. For instance, while Tata Chemicals will undertake cell level research and development in lithium ion chemistry, Tata AutoComp will work in battery assembly modules along with battery management system.

Also expanding its electric vehicle portfolio to the commercial vehicle segment, the company plans to roll out an electric 12-metre, low-floor bus and a 9-tonne electric truck.

Tata also unveiled its HBX SUV and Sierra EV concepts. Besides launching the BS VI-emission norms-compliant SUV, Harrier, it unveiled the Gravitas, a 7-seater version of the same vehicle.

Meanwhile, M&M launched India’s most affordable electric car, eKUV, at a starting price of 8.25 lakh (ex-showroom, post benefits under the FAME 2 scheme). The electric car, positioned for fleet and commercial applications, will offer a running range of 150km on a single charge and will come equipped with fast charging feature with the ability to charge up to 80% of its battery in less than an hour.

M&M is also gearing up to roll out the electric variant of its compact SUV, XUV300, the eXUV300, by the second half of next fiscal.

The Mumbai-based automaker also showcased Atom, an electric quadricycle developed for last mile connectivity requirements and Funster concept, an EV with a convertible roof.

M&M, which has prioritized shared, electric and connected vehicle technologies going forward, said it will invest 15,000 crore over next three years across passenger and commercial vehicles and tractors. Pawan Goenka, managing director, M&M said, “We have invested 1,700 crore on the development of electric vehicles until now. We are investing another 500 crore in an R&D unit for EVs in Bangalore and a new (battery and other EV components) plant in Chakan near Pune."

“Shared mobility will drive large scale adoption of EVs and we intend to offer widest range of EVs with affordability as the guiding factor," Goenka added.

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