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Ex-Holden exec to drive $1.4b GM India expansion

Out of India: GM will start building the Trailblazer SUV in India later this year, the first of 10 new models to come out of its Talegaon plant before the end of the decade.

Former Holden engineer a key figure behind GM’s $1 billion investment

General Motors logo30 Jul 2015

By TERRY MARTIN

FORMER Holden engineer Kaher Kazem will play a central role in General Motors’ new $US1 billion ($A1.4b) expansion program in India announced this week, overseeing manufacturing in the key market as the US auto giant rolls out 10 new locally built Chevrolet models over the next five years and almost doubles vehicle production by 2025.

The massive splurge, which is double the amount GM has invested in India since setting up there in 1996, is part of a $US5 billion ($A6.8b) total commitment to “global growth markets” made under the Chevrolet banner. An additional $US1.9 billion ($A2.6b) will also be pumped into Brazil.

Some 12,000 new jobs at GM India and its suppliers will be created as the new models come on line and manufacturing efforts are concentrated at the Talegaon Dabhade plant south-east of Mumbai.

As GoAuto reported earlier this month, Mr Kazem – who officially starts as GM India’s chief operating officer on August 1 – has moved to the Talegaon plant to head up the manufacturing side of the company’s business.

Mr Kazem was previously president and managing director of GM Uzbekistan and is a former vice-president of manufacturing and quality for GM Thailand and the ASEAN region, having risen through the ranks at GM Holden in Australia earlier in his career.

 center image Left: New GM India COO Kaher Kazem

In India, GM will close its Halol facility by the second half of next year while strengthening Talegaon under the supervision of Mr Kazem.

Talegaon will become the export hub for GM India, with more than 30 per cent of its annual production capacity – currently 130,000 but to be increased to 220,000 by 2025 – planned for export.

There are no plans to export vehicles to mature markets such as Australia and the United States.

The factory will produce the Trailblazer SUV from October this year and the Spin MPV from early in 2017.

A new global vehicle family currently in development by a multinational team of engineers and designers will also join the production line, having been tailored to the requirements of the Indian market.

Similar plans are in place for Brazil, China and Mexico.

At a domestic level in India, GM – which operates as the majority shareholder (with a 93 per cent stake) in partnership with China’s SAIC – now aims to double its market share by the end of the decade.

In market terms, GM sits well behind the largest vehicle manufacturers in India – Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors and Mahindra – and last year recorded just 56,700 sales under the Chevrolet brand, for a 1.8 per cent market share.

Market leader Maruti Suzuki, meanwhile, sold 853,532 passenger cars last year, and exported another 92,171 vehicles.

“Chevrolet is committed to India for the long term,” said GM CEO Mary Barra, who met with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi this week to brief him on the company’s plans.

“We are delivering on our promise and doubling our investment in India. This will allow us to provide our Indian customers the great vehicles they want and the world-class customer experience they deserve. It will also support the government’s ‘Make in India’ program.”

GM International president Stefan Jacoby said the forthcoming new global vehicle family will have several different body styles “designed to meet the expectations of the Indian consumer”.

“The vehicles will be manufactured and sold in India and feature striking styling that has never been seen here before,” he said.

“They will also be exported worldwide. With this investment, our aim is to double our market share in India by 2020.”

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