Special Correspondent

Pune unit trial run will begin in April

To raise headcount at the Bangalore engineering division

Captiva SUV

to be launched

in January

CHENNAI: General Motors India is keen to have a power train facility in the country.

Stating this at a press conference here on Tuesday, Karl Slym, President and Managing Director, said “We are looking at a power train plant in India.” Mr. Slym, however, would not like to hazard any guess on the timing of investment into such a facility.

The company, it may be mentioned, has an engineering division in Bangalore with a headcount of 1,000. Of this, around 400 are power train engineers, 500 vehicle engineers and 100 R&D people. The headcount here is expected to double in two years.

For Mr. Slym, who took over as President and Managing Director of the company on October 1, the immediate priority, however, is to get the upcoming greenfield project at Talegaon near Pune off the ground in time. He said trial run would begin in April and the facility would go commercial in the last quarter of 2008. The plant would see an investment of $320 million and have a capacity to churn out 1.40 lakh units annually.

Mr. Slym said the much awaited launch of Captiva, the sports utility vehicle, would happen in January. A decision on the price of the vehicle would be taken closer to the launch date, he added. Captiva would compete in the Honda CRV segment. It would be a CBU (completely built unit) import from Korea. It would be a seven-seater and sport a new styling, he said.

The President said the company had recorded a growth of 95 per cent in the last quarter. It had sold over 60,000 vehicles so far this year as against around 35,000 units last year.

The recently launched Spark saw sales of 11,900 vehicles thus far. “Spark is a wonderful car and has given us record sales. And, it is booked till March,” he said.

Mr. Slym said capacity was indeed a constraint for the company, which had set its sights on capturing a 10 per cent market share by 2010. While the Pune unit capacity would not be available until the last quarter of 2008, the company had, in the interim, gone on to expand the capacity of its unit at Halol near Baroda from 60,000 units to 85,000 units. He said there was enough room to expand capacity at Pune also, should the need arise. To a question, he said the growth was coming from the sale of new products for General Motors.

Sourcing of spare parts

Mr. Slym was confident that sourcing of spare parts from India by General Motors would go up to $1 billion in the next three years. At present, GM sources spare parts worth $300 million from India.