China's Great Wall Motors (GWM) which has ten R&D centres and nine manufacturing plants around the world is set to add another one into its kitty by the H2 of CY2020 with the takeover of GM's existing plant in Talegaon, Maharashtra. The company officially kicked off operations in India by unveiling two SUV concepts at the Auto Expo 2020. It now aims to establish its first brand, Haval in India and then move towards the EV segment.
The company also announced US $1 billion (Rs 7112 crore) investments into the country in manufacturing, R&D, supply-chain, marketing and sales over a phased manner. According to Kaushik Ganguly, director, strategy and planning, GWM India, "None of the vehicles displayed here represent the size or the particular model that we intend to bring to India. These are concept cars. All our models are global models and we will bring a vehicle that is a global vehicle, but will be tweaked to suit Indian tastes.
"While SUVs will be the first priority for us, we will also be keen on the hatchback and sedan segments. Our initial focus is to establish the brand Haval in India and definitely, there would be some kind of electrification into the vehicle when we launch in 2021. We will definitely have EV products under the 'GWM-EV' brand which has a wide range of products from across segments, latest by 2022.
"Right now, however, the focus is on the complete takeover of the 200,000-unit capacity plant of GM in Talegaon and we are hopeful of getting it by the second-half of 2020. Once that goes out of the way, we will make some changes as per our needs and then try to get to the market as soon as possible.
"So, we are targeting launch timing to be 'broadly 2021', but as soon as possible. The positioning of Haval will be as a premium brand and we will also be looking at radar-guided ADAS features into our cars.
Localisation and collaborative approach
Elaborating on the topic of localisation, Ganguly added, "While the GWM R&D centre has been contributing to the Group's global product development since 2016, we will enhance focus towards doing more and more India-specific work. With regards to localisation, while the target is to attain maximum possible localisation at SOP, most critical components in terms of powertrain, engine, transmission and electronics are being manufactured by GWM's subsidiaries and for India, it would be a mixture of making them ourselves, sourcing through vendors or doing collaborations with GWM component subsidiaries.
At the moment, we are working on the best possible localisation structure and ideally, we would not like to source from China. We are having discussions with prospective suppliers and our localisation would happen in a phased manner.”
Network in the works
On the issue of building network, Ganguly said that, “In terms of network, we are working on our dealer strategy right now and as we speak, we have already invited a selected set of dealers from all across the country and all across the industry to showcase our product portfolio here at the Auto Expo. We are giving a chance to newcomers as well. To start with, we will have presence in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 markets, then we will expand further.”
Without disclosing any volume targets, Ganguly concluded, "Our focus right now is to establish the brand and we are not looking at market share right at the moment.”