After multiple failed attempts by Chinese brands to foray into the Indian auto market, SAIC finally looks set to become the first car maker from the other side of the Himalayas to locally manufacture and sell products in our country.
“SAIC MOTOR CORPORATION LIMITED, one of the biggest corporations in the world and the largest automobile giant in China, today announced its plan to enter the Indian automobile market through a fully-owned car manufacturing facility in the country.”
SAIC which has a long-standing partnership with General Motors in China (at one point, it even had a sizeable stake in GM India) has registered a company in India under ‘MG Motors India’ banner. The British brand MG has been under SAIC’s ownership for about a decade now and the company is hoping to use it to avoid the negative perception of Chinese automobiles in our market.
MG Motors India has already started hiring top executives and even received an approval from Competition Commission of India’s approval to acquire GM India’s Halol facility which is set to be shut down this year. Of course, the approval is subject to the American automaker’s settlement of ongoing labor compensation issues.
If the deal to buy the Halol plant falls through, SAIC would be setting up its own plant. The automaker is expected to commence production in India from 2019. SAIC has reportedly hired consultants KPMG to conduct market research in India. Former GM India veterans, Rajeev Chhaba and P Balendran have been roped in to lead MG Motor India’s operations. Mr Chhaba will be the President and Managing Director while Mr Balendran will be the Executive Director.
It’s too early to talk about MG Motor India’s possible product lineup but it’s reasonable to expect SAIC to start its operations with an SUV. SAIC owns multiple brands and has access to a wide variety of products which could fit into various segments in India.
It would be interesting to watch how SAIC plans to crack the challenging yet rewarding Indian auto market.