Chevrolet all the way
How General Motors has tried to build the Chevrolet brand in India
Sometime towards the end of 2011 or the early part of 2012,General Motors will launch trucks in India. These will be small machines meant to ply inside cities, and will take on Tata Motors’ Ace and Mahindra & Mahindra’s Gio. The architecture of the trucks will be sourced from SAIC of China, which now holds 50 per cent in General Motors India, but these will be customised for India inside the General Motors Technology Centre in Bangalore. It has been decided that the trucks will sport the Chevrolet badge on the grill, that famous bowtie.
Launched in India in 2003, General Motors seems to think Chevrolet has hit critical mass in cars and is ready for extension to trucks. In the first quarter of this year, research conducted by TNS showed that Chevrolet’s brand recall and perception have improved in the last seven years; the recall has done better than the targets, though the positive opinion has fallen short of the target (see Chevrolet Health Check). Some of the shortfall can be explained by the bankruptcy of its parent in the United States about a year ago.
But Chevrolet in India is not big. It is a fiercely competitive market, the final frontier for the car makers of the world. For the first four months of 2010, Chevrolet’s market share was 4.6 per cent — small, though double of the 2.2 per cent in January-April 2009. The target for 2010 was 10 per cent. General Motors India President & Managing Director Karl Slym was confident till a year ago that the target will be met; not any longer. “That target was set before the bankruptcy in the United States,” says he.
On the positive side, India has become the fourth-largest Chevrolet market in the world after the United States, China and Brazil. (There is one Chevrolet bought every eight seconds in the world.) Slym is hopeful of closing this year with sales of over 135,000 and next year with over 200,000. General...