General Motors India on Monday drove in a diesel version of its Beat compact car to cash in on the boom in this segment after steep revisions in petrol prices and increasing price differentials between the two fuels. Priced at Rs 4.29 lakh (entery-level, ex-showroom Delhi), the car will take on models like Ford Figo and Suzuki Swift.
GM, which has been trying to gain a foothold in the big-volume small car market, feels that a diesel variant will help it gain numbers. The Beat is available with a 1200cc petrol engine, and for diesel GM has developed a 1000cc engine, its smallest diesel engine globally. “The new engine has been developed by GM’s engineers in Europe and modified to suit Indian driving conditions at the company’s technical centre in Bangalore,” Karl Slym, president and MD of GM India, said.
Slym said the company sells about 2,700-3,000 petrol Beats a month. “With the diesel, we hope to sell an additional 4,000-5,000 units a month.”
Sales of diesel cars have picked up pace after petrol prices moved up sharply. Diesel costs Rs 41.29 per litre in Delhi, compared to Rs 63.7 per litre for petrol. It is believed that the share of diesel in overall car sales is gradually inching up from its 30% share at present.
Slym said the company could look at introducing diesel versions on other small cars as well. Overall, GM India plans to introduce five new vehicles over the next 18 months, including a hatchback. Slym, however, refused to provide details. Chevrolet is the mainstay for the company in India.
Other vehicles produced under the Chevrolet brand include the Spark and Aveo U-VA hatchbacks, the Optra and Aveo sedans, and the Tavera multi-utility vehicle. GM sold 110,804 cars in India in 2010 and plans to increase to about 150,000 vehicles this year and 200,000 next year, Slym said.