General Motors India on Thursday launched its new locally-developed petrol engine that would be fitted in its hatchback Beat from next month onwards, while the U.S.-based carmaker is planning to bring the engine's diesel version soon. The company also plans to introduce six new models in the next two years, including light commercial vehicles (LCVs) from its Chinese partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

Created by the General Motors technical centre in Bangalore, the 1.2-litre ‘SMARTECH' engine will be produced at the Talegaon (Maharashtra) facility for a range of its new models. “The new engine decreases weight, maximises fuel economy and reduces emissions, besides improving drive quality in traffic and Indian roads conditions,” General Motors India President and Managing Director Karl Slym told journalists here.

Stating that the diesel version of the engine would be launched in mid-2011 that would boost the company's car sales, Mr. Slym said these engines would be made at the $230-million Talegaon plant inaugurated last year that has a capacity of 1.6-lakh powertrains, which can be scaled up to three lakh units. “Our target is to sell two lakh units by 2012 and three lakh units by 2013…our engine plant's capacity would complieent our future growth,” he added. GM India sold 1.1-lakh units in 2010, at a growth of 60 per cent.

Mr. Slym further said that as part of its strategy to drive growth, General Motors would introduce six new models and 14 fuel variants in the next 24 months. These would include an 800cc mini car below its sedan Spark and a compact car, besides two LCVs from SAIC. “We are investing $100 million in the next 12 months to increase the capacity of the Halol plant to over one lakh units from the current level of 85,000 units annually to gear up to launch LCVs. If we want to be a major player in the Indian market, we need to enter the LCV market that accounts for 35-40 per cent of the total auto market,” he added.

Admitting mistakes in its Indian strategy over the past decade, General Motors International Operations President Tim Lee said the U.S. carmaker would focus on developing products that were tailored for the local market to drive a profitable and sustainable growth here.

“General Motors in India has made mistakes in the past. We have been inconsistent in our product portfolio plans, we have been inconsistent in our resource allocations…but we have made course correction and we hope to have a significant market share here soon,” he added.

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