GM showcases electric version of Chevy Beat, shelves small car plan

Even as growth is moderating in the Indian automobile market, at 13 per cent year-on-year in May – the slowest in two years – General Motors (GM) aims to grow at double the market rate.

Unveiling an electric version of its small car, the Beat, as part of a global demonstration of the technology, Mr Karl Slym, President and Managing Director, GM India, told reporters here, “We'll grow at double the pace of the market. If the market grows at 12 per cent this year, then our sales will grow by 24 per cent from 110,000 cars sold last year.”


Chevrolet Beat Battery Electric Vehicle will not be launched in India soon. “Only tax incentives will not enable us to bring Beat Electric to Indian markets. There has to be suitable infrastructure upgradation such as power supply, car parking and consumer education,” Mr Slym said.

When asked if the company utilised the technology that it was developing with Reva Electric Car, Mr Slym said: “This mini car is completely different from what we were developing with Reva. This project was going on in parallel.”

GM India show-cased Beat Electric on Thursday to get consumer insights into the product's acceptability. “We are not looking to launch this immediately as we do not have the right infrastructure for EVs in this country yet,” said Mr Sumit Sawhney, Vice-President (Sales, Marketing and Aftersales).

Powered by a 300 cell lithium-ion battery with a total energy capacity of approximately 20 kWh, the 270 kg battery can power the Beat for at least 130 km under normal driving conditions. The liquid cool battery can operate in temperatures ranging from approximately minus 20 degree Celsius to 45 degree Celsius, with charge time of less than eight hours using a 240V outlet. 

The US car maker said it had shelved plans to launch a small car in India that was take on Tata Nano, citing viability issues.

“It (small car) was under discussion when the Rs 1 lakh car (Nano) came in. We have reached a decision point that it is not right for us,” Mr Slym said.

The small car was looked to be positioned below the company's existing entry level compact car ‘Spark', he added.

“We did have a plan (to launch a smaller car than Spark), but no longer now. We have shelved the plans to get into that segment,” he said.


GM is set to launch five new products and 14 variants in India in the next 18 months under the Chevrolet umbrella. Out of these, two will be light commercial vehicles. All products will have multiple fuel options and range across all price packets.

The company is also geared up to launch the diesel variant of the Beat next month. “The car will give a mileage of 24 km for every litre,” Mr Slym said.

GM has invested over $1 billion in India and sells around 9,000 units a month. It has production capacity of 140,000 cars in the Talegaon plant and 85,000 cars in Halol.

(This article was published on June 23, 2011)
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