Chevrolet announces India exit
Domestic sales end this year; exports to continue
Talk about a a day of contrasting fortunes. On the day Volvo greenlit the setting up of its assembly plant in Bangalore, General Motors announced the shutting down of Chevrolet's India sales. Chevrolet has suffered for a long time, and GM finally decided to end its misery today.
It started with the shutting down of the Halol plant not too long ago, and now, by the end of this year, GM will stop selling cars and wrap up its 150-odd dealerships. It's not pulling out completely – the facility at Talegaon, near Pune, is set to continue building cars for the export market. That Beat Essentia you spotted testing? Yes, it will be made, but if you want to own one, you'll have to shift to Mexico.
On a media con call, Kaher Kazem, GM India president, explained how the $1 billion investment GM had originally planned to make in India would not bring the results it seeks, and hence the decision to shut shop.
"The increase in investment would not get us the returns we wanted. It would not get us a leadership position and compelling long-term profitability. It's a tough but necessary move."
There were rumours flying around about GM's imminent exit, but the company's activities told a different story. In the build up to this announcement, Chevrolet was gearing up to launch the revised Intelli-Beat, and it had communicated as much to its dealers and the media as well. This announcement is a bit out of the blue, but not without reason: GM India reportedly ran into losses amounting to Rs 1,100 crore in FY15-16.
"The decision had been in the making for a while. We had explored many options in an internal meeting in June 2016, one of which was phasing Chevrolet out of India, but it was only finalised in the recent days", Kazem said.
What has also been made clear is that Chevrolet will not resume domestic sales in India in the foreseeable future. At the same time, Kazem assured existing customers will not suffer, and that service and spares will not go missing.
"We've incurred too many losses. Our decision is final. Chevrolet will not be returning to India. But our existing customers need not worry. They'll continue to enjoy comprehensive aftersales support", he concluded.
It has been a rough ride for GM all along. In a little over the two decades it was here for, the product portfolio lacked punch, there was zero to little visibility in terms of marketing, and quite frankly, GM just couldn't keep pace with India and its expectations. At a time when we dreamt of the Ameo RS concept, Chevrolet dumped the Sail and Sail U-VA on us, cars that had 'DUD' tattooed across their bonnet. New cars never came to our shores, and the ones that did (cue the Trailblazer) were insignificant in the scheme of things. Not one of Chevrolet's products – bar the trusty and serviceable Tavera, a hit with fleet owners – could do consistent numbers. And the fact that GM failed to sell cars in one of the fastest-growing markets around the globe, and failed so badly that it has decided to pack up, tells you all you need to know.
So long, Chevrolet. You will be missed... probably.