NEW DELHI: One of the biggest auto makers in the world, General Motors began its India journey in 1996 – much before the likes of Renault and Nissan, and around the same time as Hyundai. 21 years on, the American company has under one per cent share in the otherwise vibrant Indian car market.
For GM, the journey of 21 years has hardly been vibrant – failing to find a foothold here even as rivals pushed the pedal to accelerate. In a market dominated by Maruti Suzuki 800s, GM offered Astra under the Opel brand. While the car did come as a fresh and premium package, it could not find mass appeal. From hereon, the company dabbled with Corsa and Vectra under Opel and a number of vehicles under the Chevrolet brand. Barring momentary jolts of success, not one car managed to become a common sight on Indian roads. Another problem may have been GM’s inability to connect with its buyer base. “They (Chevrolet) failed to invoke a connection with the general masses,” says Col. YS Katoch, co-founder of CarXpert, a service-providing company for multi-brand cars. “The decentralized dealer model seems to be the pain point for the company where there was no control over pricing and other after sales services.”
Agrees Nitin Vaijal, an independent car-trading analyst, who says Chevrolet’s image value never really took off in India. “Some of their vehicles were good and solid offerings. The Optra is a case in point. But many found taking their cars to the service centers as an uphill task. A section of buyers who still went for these cars eventually began leaning elsewhere,” he says.
While GM has promised to continue providing service and spare parts to owners of Chevrolet cars in India despite folding sales, here’s taking a look at GM’s Chevrolet current offerings will now bid farewell to Indian shores.
Chevrolet Tavera: This may well have been one GM’s biggest success stories in India. At a time when Tata Sumo and Toyota Qualis ruled the roads – especially highways – Tavera managed to attract buyers courtesy its balance between space and power. The car also received two face lifts but still began appearing rather jaded in recent years. That over 100,000 Taveras were recalled in July of 2013 after it failed emission tests also hurt its image and that of the company.
Chevrolet Beat: The small-car segment in India has always been the most fiercely fought. GM for a while looked like it had a challenger to Maruti Suzuki Alto when it introduced Beat – especially with the promise of ‘no-cost’ post-sales maintenance for three years. The car was first showcased at the 2007 New York Auto Show and was brought to India in 2010. The 1.2-litre petrol engine was peppy and the ‘Transformer-like’ looks worked for many. A diesel variant was later introduced as well. After a decent run of a few years though, the car failed to keep up with what new rivals were offering and how established rivals were re-inventing themselves