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GM to introduce diesel variant of Chevrolet Beat by June 2011

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General Motors India will introduce a diesel variant of its popular Chevrolet Beat hatchback in the country by June, 2011, a top company official said today.

"(A) Beat with a one-litre diesel engine will also be coming in June this year," General Motors India Vice-President P Balendran said after unveiling the LPG variant of the compact car here.

The diesel engine for the new variant will be manufactured at GM's Talegaon plant in Maharashtra. General Motors India has invested about $230 million on the plant, which has the capacity to produce 1.60 lakh units per annum.

"Beat will not be a major volume player.. We are just incrementing the existing portfolio," he told reporters.

The company has invested close to $1 billion in the India market till date.

Stating that the company was mulling localisation of its products in India, he said, "With the introduction of the new engine plant at Talegaon, some of our products would have more than 95 per cent localisation content."

On GM's future plans, Balendran said they would introduce the Euro-IV variant of the "Tavera" SUV later this year.

For offering the Euro-IV variant, the company partnered with ICML Ltd, a part of the Sonalika Group, last year for sourcing the Euro-IV engines. "When we launch the Euro-IV variant, it will be have more than 95% localisation. Tavera with the Euro-IV engine will be launched by the middle of this year," Balendran said.

At present, General Motors source Euro-III engines for its Tavera model from UK-based Avtec International.

The company will also make an investment of $300 million for introducing six models based on a new platform in the next two years.

The six models include a new compact car, a sedan, a sports utility vehicle, a pick-up vehicle, a multi-utility vehicle and an upgraded version of its premium Captiva SUV.

Asked how the company would finance the proposed USD 300 million investment, he said it would be met through loans and internal accruals.

With regard to the hike in interest rates by banks, he said it would slow down automobile industry growth. However, he expressed enthusiasm that GM would be able to defy the trend.

"Last year, when the industry (growth) went up by 31%, we grew by 60%. This year, when it is looking to slow down, we are hoping to grow by 40%," he said.

General Motors sold 1,10,804 units in 2010, a 59.6% increase compared to the previous year, when it sold 69,787 units, he added.

Including their two plants at Talegaon, Maharashtra, and Halol, in Gujarat, and their R&D unit in Bangalore, General Motors has about 4,000 employees in the country, Company Senior Regional Sales Manager Manish Singh Rathore said.