GM’s joint venture with Chinese OEM SAIC will begin shipping microvan CKD kits for assembly in India from next year. SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile (SGMW) will produce the kits at its facility in Liuzhou for assembly at two plants in India: the Halol facility near Baroda and the Talegaon plant near Pune. The plan is to start from Halol, said a spokesperson for GM India.
Exports will begin with the five-seater Wuling Honguang microvan (pictured), which will be renamed CN100 for the Indian market, and the eight-seater Hongtu, which will be renamed N200. The vehicles will be sold in India under the Chevrolet badge rather than the Wuling brand as they are in China.
GM could not confirm kit numbers at this stage, stating that it depended on market conditions.
The company has been targeting new markets for exports for its microvans, including Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. With exports already moving to Peru, in August 2009 it started shipments to Egypt (read more here).
In the same year it established a division in India to introduce microvans and Shanghai GM’s small passenger cars, while also converting GM India into a 50-50 joint venture between GM and SAIC.
The spokesman for GM India said that the carmaker was already importing various items for its existing carlines and the logistics for the CKD shipments were already in place and would come via the same port as current consignments. Mumbai is the nearest major port.
Sources at GM have indicated that the company would also consider establishing a CKD centre in China with its joint venture partners to handle exports. The company currently runs a major CKD centre in South Korea, from where it exports more than 1m CKD kits per year.
SGMW is China’s largest producer of microvans, though since the end of tax breaks and scrappage subsidies at the end of last year sales have dropped by 5% in the first six months of the year to around 611,000 units. Exports to India’s fast-growing rural market offer a way of boosting those sales figures.
GM and its joint ventures in China accounted for total sales of more than 2m vehicles there last year, an increase of 28.8% compared with sales in 2009. This compares with an increase of 6.3% in the US and means the company now sells more vehicles in China than it does at home. GM sales in the first seven months of 2011 have grown 4.4% year on year to 1.45m vehicles across its three joint ventures.
In India the company recorded growth of 34% in sales in July 2011, compared to the corresponding period last year. It sold 9,508 units in July 2011 against 7,124 sold in July 2010, led by the Chevrolet Beat.