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SAIC cars in India by end 2011


General Motors India today said it will launch commercial vehicles and passenger cars from the stable of its Chinese partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) by the end of next year.

General Motors India, which was converted into a 50:50 joint venture between General Motors and SAIC last year, will be making a significant investment in terms of 'millions of dollars' at its Halol plant in Gujarat to manufacture light commercial vehicles (LCVs) from SAIC's stable.

"After the partnership with SAIC, GM in India has a wider menu to choose from with products from SAIC also available. By the end of next year or early 2012, we plan to launch LCVs in one-tonne capacity, which could be simultaneously followed by passenger cars," GM India President and Managing Director Karl Slym told reporters here.

While the passenger cars from SAIC will be sold in India under the Chevrolet badge, he said the company is yet to finalise on the branding of the LCVs.

He said that initially, the company is looking at launching about three models of LCVs, but did not specify on the passenger cars.

Slym also said that with the Chinese partner coming in, the company's board structure has also changed with both having equal representation in the six-member board now.

The JV started functioning from February this year, he said, adding that nine more people from SAIC, who are related to commercial vehicles, will join the team in due course of time.

On the investment front, Slym said, "The company has not finalised any figures, but on an industry average it takes about USD 50 million per vehicle to change the toolings on an existing plant."

He also said that GM India will export the LCVs to other markets, mainly in South America and possibly in South East Asia.

The company's Halol facility has a capacity to produce 85,000 units every year and it will remain same after introducing SAIC's LCVs from here.

In December 2009, General Motors had formed a 50:50 joint venture investment company --  General Motors SAIC Investment Ltd -- with SAIC, earmarking a total investment of about $650 million.

The company had announced at that time that commercial vehicles would to be rolled from Halol facility after shifting the production of some of the GM India's existing products, such as multi utility vehicle Tavera and Aveo, to Talegaon.

GM India currently manufactures the Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet U-Va, Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet SRV, Chevrolet Optra Magnum, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Tavera and Chevrolet Captiva at its two state of the art facilities in Halol and Talegaon.