GM’s China partners may launch minivans in India image

AIC-GM-Wuling Automobile, General Motors’ mini-commercial vehicle venture in China, is now said to be looking at the possibility of bringing its minivans into the Indian car market, media reported recently.

Set up in 2002, this three-way joint venture between General Motors, SAIC Motor and Wuling Automobile currently makes low-cost mini trucks, minivans and small cars for the Chinese market. The JV sold 100,635 vehicles last month in China, surpassing the 100,000 mark for a second time. Sales were up 64.5% in the first nine months to 801,869 units.

China’s auto giant SAIC Motor, which anyway plays a greater role with GM in the Chinese market, is now tipped to purchase stake in GM India’s Talegaon plant. Now there are reports that different product categories would see their entry in the Indian motor landscape.

If the deal is cracked with GM Indian arm, it will also enable SAIC to get immediate access to the Indian market for its products. There are several other projects being evaluated which include a wide range of models from China in addition to the Wuling entry into India.

“The brand is well-suited for the Indian market. It’s definitely an opportunity for us to launch these minivans in the country, with product adjustments. Entering the light commercial vehicle market is the most logical step to strengthen our portfolio,” said a GM executive.

Aided by Chinese government subsidies, GM China sells around 80,000 units of Chevy and Wuling minivans every month and commands a market share of 43% in China’s minivan segment. GM India says these are likely to be the models for the Indian market.

The Chinese interest in the Indian automobile scene is getting keener by the day. There have been companies like Chery Auto, FAW Group, Great Wall Motor and Zotye Auto who have been looking to get a foothold in India.

By George Gao