Karl Slym, President and Managing Director, GM India
Can you tell us about your new panel stamping facility?
We have not had our own stamping capability in India till now. Our new plant at Talegaon, which started operations last September, will house the new stamping facility. This new facility will provide body panels for our new M300 model and we are ahead of schedule in terms of commissioning this facility. The building is ready, the presses are in and the tools have just arrived. So we are already doing our trials in this new facility and this will be a huge step for us.
What is the status of your new engine plant?
We signed the MoU with the Maharashtra government for the engine facility just before our Talegaon car plant opening last year. The building for the engine plant is already complete and is located near the Talegaon car manufacturing facility. The infrastructure is in place and some of the equipment has started to arrive. Also, we have already set up a small line at the site to start training our people and are doing some trials at the moment. So that is where we are with the engine plant. Actual production will not start until the end of next year. When we launch the new M300 at the end of this year, we will be using an imported engine.
How will the recent Chapter 11 filing by GM in the US affect GM India?
Let me give you the bigger picture as to what we have done and why. When we recognised that June 1 was likely to be the date of the Chapter 11 filing in the US, we spent two months prior to that meeting with our business partners, employees, banks, suppliers, dealers and to some extent consumers, reassuring them that as far as India is concerned we still have the same goals and objectives. Also, we clearly stated that the Indian operations were not part of the US filing but all this would naturally be difficult for some of our customers to understand. From a consumer point of view, we did not think that doing a campaign prior to the announcement would be helpful. So we prepared our ‘There for You, There for India’ campaign and launched it after the June 1 filing to drive home the message that GM is here for the long haul. Most importantly people should see that it is business as usual and the best way to do that is to launch a new car. Hence, we have just launched our Spark LPG and the Cruze saloon is around the corner.
What is your view on vehicle financing rates?
I think they are very high considering where we are as an economy now. We all have expected them to come down a lot more by now. They need to come down by around three percentage points to 8 or 9 percent before they are in the right zone. Also, there are few private banks in the vehicle finance sector now and many more public banks, so that is also a big change.
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