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GM looks to boost sales in India, unveils minicar

NEW DELHI -- General Motors plans to ramp up production and sales in India, one of the world's fastest-growing auto markets, the company's chairman said yesterday as he introduced the Chevy Spark, a minicar.

GM is also scaling up procurement of low-cost auto components from India to lower costs at its plants around the world, GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner said.

"It is time to redouble our efforts on manufacturing and marketing here," Wagoner told a group of business leaders.

India's rapid economic growth over the past decade has boosted middle-class incomes and demand for cars.

Japanese and Korean carmakers such as Suzuki Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. have done much better than their American counterparts with small and compact cars that dominate Indian roads. Both GM and Ford haven't seen much success because of pricing.

GM hopes Spark will help change the course. With the base model priced at about $7,300, the car is a compelling buy. "This [the Spark] is a big part of our growth strategy here," Wagoner said. "With this new product and the investments we are making, GM sales and market share will continue to grow."

GM is building a plant in India to more than double its production to 225,000 units annually. That will make India GM's third-biggest production hub in Asia, after China and South Korea.