GM to introduce diesel variant of Chevrolet Beat by June 2011

CHENNAI: Targeting diesel lovers, US car maker General Motors would introduce the "Diesel" variant of its popular hatchback Chevrolet Beat in the country by June 2011, a top company official said on Monday.

"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 here.

The diesel engine for the new variant would be manufactured from their Talegaon plant in Maharashtra. General Motors India has invested about USD 230 million for the plant with a capacity of 1.60 lakh units.

"Beat will not be a major volume player.. We are just incrementing the existing portfolio.", he told reporters. The company has already invested close to USD one billion till this date.

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

On their future plans, he said they would introduce the Euro-IV variant of the SUV "Tavera" later this year.

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

Presently, General Motors source Euro-III engines from UK based Avtec International for Tavera models. They would also make an investment of USD 300 million for introducing six models in new platform during 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 premium SUV Captiva.

Asked how the company would raise funds for the proposed USD 300 million investments, he said it will be partly through "loans" and by internal accruals. The hike in interest rates by Banks would slow down the automobile industry growth, he said.

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

In 2010, General Motors sold 1,10,804 units up by 59.6 per cent over the previous year. In 2009, the company sold 69,787 units, he added.

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