MUMBAI – Looking to escape from declining domestic sales and market share damaged by publicity over violations of emissions-testing procedures,India is forming an export strategy for the first time in its 18 years in operation.
Plans call for exporting 18% to 20% of production at GMI’s Talegaon plant within the next two to three years. This eventually could mean about 35,000 car exports annually.
The model chosen for export is the Chevrolet Beat. The small hatchback is well-built, affordable and is an excellent car for city traffic. An updated model was launched at the Auto Expo in February.
GMI reportedly is studying improvements in production practices, sharpening the brand image, upgrading the dealer network and modernizing management procedures. But the recipe for success has been elusive.
The slowdown in the Indian market has hit GMI harder than many of its competitors. Car sales dropped 16.8% year-over-year to 58,926 in 2013 after falling 20.0% in 2012, WardsAuto data shows. Market share fell to 2.6% last year from 3.0% in 2012.
Deliveries were off 27%, to 23,067 units, in the first four months of this year.India recently surpassed GMI as the country’s seventh-largest light-vehicle maker.
GMI’s performance has been inconsistent; deliveries of low-volume midsize cars such as the Aveo and Sail have nearly tripled, but sales of small utilities and compact cars have declined.
Sales of the Beat and other compacts exceeded 50,000 in each of the previous two years but have tumbled 33% to 33,777 in the fiscal year ending March 31, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Deliveries of the popular Spark minicar have decreased by half.
Struggling to recover from the aftereffects of testing-standards violations and procedures involving emissions certification for 114,000 Tavera SUVs, GMI unveiled two new 7-seat compact SUV concepts at February’s Auto Expo, the Chevrolet Adra and Trailblazer. Both may be built on parent GM’s Gamma 2 global small-vehicle platform.
The automaker also displayed the seventh-generation 6.2L V-8 Corvette C7 Stingray at the Expo, but it is not yet known if it will be imported.