General Motors India on Wednesday launched a new version of the Chevrolet Beat, which is the company's best-selling model in the cost-conscious entry segment of the Indian car market, and unveiled a concept sport-utility vehicle, or SUV, aimed at the growing demand for crossover vehicles in the country.
The "Adra," which was developed in the company's Bangalore design office, is expected to appeal to the Indian market with features such as high ground clearance, a roomy cabin and high seating, all at a competitive price. The Beat hatchback, which is GM's budget workhorse and is a first car for many Indian consumers, starts at just over 400,000 Indian rupees ($6,400), while its top-end model is priced under $10,000.
"We want to get the Beat off to a strong launch and localize heavily, which is core to our business here, as it will have an impact on our overall cost structure," Lowell Paddock, head of GM India told International Business Times about the company's plans for 2014, at the New Delhi auto show on Wednesday.
GM's (NYSE:GM) success in the U.S., which was aided by a solid economic recovery, will help it grow further in emerging markets, Paddock said, noting that the company has invested more than $1 billion dollars in India so far.
High inflation, which has kept interest rates from dropping and constrained credit, has dampened sentiment and severely hurt demand in the Indian auto market, which saw its worst year in about a decade in 2013 when sales fell 10 percent.
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"We hope that this is not the new normal for the market," Paddock told IBTimes, adding: "Until we see more confidence in the future of the Indian economy, perhaps after the elections, I don't expect the market to make a major turnaround," he said, before striking a more upbeat note: "We have to get inflation under control, manage the deficit, but the elements are there for success. It's not a question of if the market is going to turn a corner, it's more about when it will turn a corner."
GM's executives declined to provide details on pricing or a launch date for the Adra, which means rock in Sanskrit, according to Anil Saini, head of GM's design team in India.
The company also showcased Detroit classics such as the Corvette Stingray and the Camaro ZL1 at the auto show, which is being held in India's capital New Delhi from Feb. 5 through Feb. 11.