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GM India bets big on alternative fuels

autos Updated: Apr 17, 2011 20:47 IST
Manu P Toms

With a less than 5% marketshare and in the face of stiff competition from Ford and Volkswagen, General Motors India is set to play the alternative fuel game. GM’s upcoming half a dozen joint venture products with China’s SAIC will have 14 variants. Apart from the conventional diesel and petrol variants, they will have LPG and CNG versions, said Sumit Sawhney, vice-president, sales and marketing, GM India.

GM India, a 50:50 joint venture between GM and SAIC, had earlier announced its plans to launch six new vehicles by 2012, including three mini vans and two cars.

GM has already stepped into the alternative fuels space. It already offers LPG variants of its small cars Chevrolet Spark and Beat.

Maruti Suzuki has the widest gas-run car portfolio with CNG-run Alto, Wagon R, Eeco, Estilo and SX4. The higher purchasing cost of gas-run vehicles is more than compensated by their lower environmental cost and better mileage. It is anticipated that by 2015-16, one fifth of cars in India will run on gas.

GM sees virtue in turning green and wants to do it fast as competition is hotting up among emerging players. Riding on the back of its successful small car Figo, Ford has edged past GM to occupy the fourth slot. In 2010-11, Ford’s market share rose to 4.81% while GM’s slipped to 4.4%. VW is also catching up fast with a 2.6% marketshare.