Is General Motors (GM) India’s latest launch — the Sail U-VA — a customised India offering as the company claims, or just a mish mash of two largely unsuccessful brands from its portfolio.

What is the difference between the older Aveo U-VA or Corsa Sail and the new Sail U-VA?

Though the company has kept the brand ‘U-VA’ (just like ‘Swift’ Dzire or Tata ‘Indica’ Vista) for catching the eyes of the consumers, one of the major differences is that Sail U-VA is available in both petrol and diesel engines, while Corsa Sail and Aveo U-Va were offered only in petrol version.

The Sail U-VA’s powertrains were the result of a global development project involving hundreds of engineers from GM’s Technical Center in Bangalore, GM’s Global Diesel Development Centre in Turin, Italy, the Pan-Asia Technical Centre in Shanghai, and its vehicle development team in Pune.

According to the company, there are India-specific updates which have been carried out to suit the Indian climatic conditions, driving conditions, fuel conditions and customers expectations. Both engines are calibrated to meet extreme Indian operating requirements (heat, cold, humidity, altitude), it said.

Space and safety

Apart from working over the last two years to make the engine India-specific, hundreds of GM India’s technology team in Bangalore, have also kept in mind the requirements of space and safety in this new car. According to Lowell Paddock, President and Managing Director, GM India, Sail U-VA’s engine has around 80 per cent of components locally sourced and going forward, more locally manufactured components would go into the engine.

The Sail U-VA has tilt-steering, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and driver airbags (in diesel) as a standard in the base model, which many other competitors including Maruti Suzuki Swift, do not have.

The plastic components have been upgraded to withstand extreme weather conditions in India and extra insulation has also been added to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

ABS and better ground clearance are some of the utmost requirements that customers want looking at the road conditions in India where features such as ABS prevents the vehicle from skits on sudden brakes in muddy or slippery roads. And, customers in India today do go for cars with such options.

One more important thing the company has kept in mind is the space that GM is providing to its customers through Sail U-VA.

It already had given much space in the earlier avatar Aveo U-Va (remember the ad where Saif Ali Khan gives a ride to a whole football team?), but the newer version has more options like 60:40 split rear seat.

The company has kept ample room for luggage in the car including compartments under the rear seat. In total, the car has 25 compartments with a total cargo volume of 1134 litres.

However, on the ground clearance part, the company claims, the latest car has an increased ground clearance, which surprisingly is not. The petrol and diesel versions have ground clearance of 174 mm and 168 mm respectively. The earlier version Aveo U-Va had 188 mm of ground clearance.

On pricing the new car has been priced competitively between Rs 4.44 lakh and Rs 6.62 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The petrol version is available at Rs 4.44 lakh to Rs 5.58 lakh and the diesel is kept between Rs 5.87 lakh and Rs 6.62 lakh.

Its competitors Maruti Suzuki Swift is priced between Rs 4.47 lakh and Rs 5.72 lakh, Hyundai i20 is available between at Rs 4.74 lakh and Rs 6.66 lakh, while Figo is priced between Rs 3.85 lakh and Rs 5.01 lakh (all ex-showroom Delhi).

Analysts say GM India is filling the gap in the B segment by launching this vehicle, which is the most important segment in the industry.

“Customers are buying the B segment as per income will continue to grow and therefore, B segment is also important for any manufacturer,” Kumar Kandaswamy, Senior Director, Deloitte India said.

(This article was published on November 13, 2012)
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