General Motors India is gearing up to launch Sail sedan and Enjoy multi-purpose vehicle by December end, thereby complete the entire portfolio of cars slated for introduction during 2012.

The Sail U-VA is the fifth product to be introduced by General Motors in India this year. The others from the Chevy line-up include Tavera IV, new Captive, new Cruze and upgraded Spark.

"During the year, the company phased out Chevy Optra sedan and U-Va hatch. The next few months will be interesting as we seek to step up sales with the new product launches. However, the market continues to be sluggish. Sales upturns and downturns are common in rapidly changing countries like India," P. Balendran, Vice-President of General Motors India, said.

Interacting with Business Line after the launch of its Sail U-VA in Hyderabad, Balendran said "We are still very excited about the long-term growth potential of India’s vehicle market. We expect the market to catch up soon." Excerpts.

How do you see the volumes growth for General Motors?

The year thus far has been challenging for the market. From the industry perspective, the initial expectation was that the sector will see a growth of about 10-12 per cent. This was revised downward to 6 per cent a couple of months ago. Now we are staring at the possibility of a modest growth of about two per cent. We are confident of retaining the sales volumes of last year. The remaining part of the year and up to the end of the financial year, things are likely to get better.

What about sales volumes?

It may not be appropriate to give an outlook for Sail–U-VA hatch. The initial response has been good. Till now, more than 400 vehicles have been booked. The next two months will be more exciting. The launch of two more vehicles, Sail Sedan and Enjoy MPV will spur interest among customers.

The launch of the Sail hatch is important as the segment has grown by about 50 per cent last month. The launch of Renault Pulse, Toyota Liva, Honda Brio have all added to the volumes in the segment referred to as Mini B2.

What have been the concerns for the automotive market?

Market continues to be sluggish as 85 per cent of the vehicles purchased are based on finance. But at GM we are optimistic about the business prospect. The interest rates continue to rule high and the general sentiment is subdued. The inflation levels are high. The Centre and the RBI need to fix things. The RBI has to look at bringing down repo rate. CRR alone is not enough. We hope the RBI will address this to spur the market.

How do you see the capacity utilisation for GM in India?

The Talegaon plant in Maharashtra has the capacity to make 1,40,000 cars and 1,60,000 engines. The Halol plant in Gujarat has the capacity to make 85,000 cars and is being expanded to 1,10,000 cars. Full capacity utilisation is linked to the market conditions. We have expanded the product portfolio with presence in several segments right from Spark and Beat in small cars going up to Captive. Last year, we closed with 1,11,000 cars.

Diesel cars seem to get popular?

In some segments, it is as high as 85 per cent.

rishikumar.vundi@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 7, 2012)
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