GM India to launch LCVs and passenger vans

Auto giant General Motors (GM) is already selling passenger vehicles successfully in India but now it plans to spread it wings wider by foraying into Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) and passenger vans over the next few years.

According to the Telegraph, GM’s President for International operations, Tim Lee, said that they will manufacture the LCVs in India along with its partners, SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) which owns 50% stakes in GM India and Wuling, a Chinese MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) manufacturer.

Earlier, in January, Karl Slym, President of GM had hinted that the company may begin producing commercial vehicles. He had said that, 40% of the overall sales in India are in the commercial vehicles segment and that GM doesn’t sell any products in this growing market. The company will manufacture the small commercial vehicles at the GM India’s Talegaon plant in Maharashtra and the Halol plant in Gujarat. Also read: GM-SAIC LCV and Mid-Sized Car for India

GM India to launch LCVs and passenger vans
Photo: Wuling Sunshine 0.8 tonne LCV; GM's LCV may look a lot like this

According to the Times of India Slym also said that the Halol facility will be the main hub for GM’s commercial vehicles in India which it plans to offer with diesel and alternative fuel options. He added that the company is investing Rs. 2.5 billion in the Halol plant and will increase the plant’s production capacity to 1 lakh vehicles per annum. A major chunk of this production will comprise commercial vehicles. Also read: General Motors upcoming launches in India: Six new cars

The first product in this chain will likely be a LCV with a load carrying capacity of 1 tonne. The company will manufacture its passenger vans at the Talegaon plant, these vans will have a seating capacity ranging from five to ten seats.

In India’s commercial vehicle segment, LCVs with a load carrying capacity of below 3.5 tonnes, have a market share that has grown from 44% to 55% in recent years. At present Tata Motors dominates the LCV segment followed closely by arch rivals Mahindra, Piaggio, Force Motors and Ashok Leyland (AL). Ashok Leyland recently launched a 1.25 tonne LCV, the Dost which is the first product out of the AL – Nissan joint venture in the commercial vehicle segment. Mahindra has already launched the Gio and Maxximo small trucks in the LCV segment.

GM India’s plans to launch commercial vehicles and people movers made news last year as well. Back in May 2010, DWS Auto had reported about the company’s plans to launch commercial vehicles and passenger cars based on its tie-up with SAIC. In November 2010 the grapevine claimed that GM had invested close to $100 million to produce light commercial vehicles although there were no official confirmations on this.

Apart from commercial vehicles, GM India will also launch passenger cars based on SAIC cars sold in China. The Chevrolet Sail sedan sold in China could be the first passenger car to roll out of the GM – SAIC partnership.

The MPV that GM is planning to launch in India, to take on the Maruti Eeco and Tata Venture had been spotted testing in Gujarat in December 2010. This MPV is based on the Wuling Hong Tu (code named as N200) that is currently sold in China. Related: General Motors India-bound MPV caught testing