General Motors India (GMI), which will begin exports of its left-hand-drive (LHD), petrol-engined Chevrolet Beat hatchback in Q4 of 2014 to Chile in South America, is to expand its exports to other Latin American markets. Early next year, Beat cars will be shipped to Africa as well, Rajesh Singh, vice-president (VSSM), GM India, told Autocar Professional.
Manufactured at the Talegaon plant in Maharashtra, around a thousand units per year are expected to be exported. “These are exports to left-hand-drive markets, so the plan is to ramp up steadily. We are developing India as an export hub for the Beat, so the ramp up will take certain quarters,” says Singh.
On May 27 this year, GMI had announced that it will begin production of export vehicles at its Talegaon facility in the second half of 2014. The first market for exports was identified as Chile, where sales of the India-made LHD version are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015.
“The start of exports will create more employment opportunities within GM India and the supplier community while helping improve capacity utilisation at the Talegaon plant. Details on more target export markets and future models for export potential are still being worked out,”says P Balendran, vice-president, GM India.
The Beat is essentially a global car sold in many markets where it is branded as the Spark. Only in India does it bear the Beat brand name.
GMI, which has thus far restricted its exports to neighbouring countries, has embarked on an export growth plan a bit late in the day, attributing it to being part of GM’s overall global strategy. According to Singh, depending on the response to the export model of the Beat, other cars will also be brought under the export ambit. He says these aspects are currently under discussion as GM has a portfolio of cars in export markets. In the long term, export of engines and other components could also be considered as GM has several production bases globally where transmission parts could be utilised.
In 2010, GMI had started production at a flexi-engine plant at Talegaon, producing both petrol and diesel engines for small passenger cars in India.