General Motors India yesterday launched a diesel version of its Beat compact car to leverage the steep rise in demand in this segment after the increase in petrol prices and increasing price differentials between the two fuels. Priced at Rs4.29 lakh (entry-level, ex-showroom Delhi), the car will compete with models like Ford Figo and Suzuki Swift.
GM, which is looking to gain a toehold in the high-volume small car market, feels a diesel variant would help it gain numbers. The Beat comes with a 1200cc petrol engine, and for diesel GM has developed a 1000cc engine, its smallest diesel engine globally. According to Karl Slym, president and MD of GM India, the new engine was developed by GM's engineers in Europe and modified to suit Indian driving conditions at the company's technical centre in Bangalore.
He added the company sold around 2,700-3,000 petrol Beats a month and with the diesel version, it is expecting to chalk up additional 4,000-5,000 units of sale a month.
Diesel car sales have increased sharply after upward revision of petrol prices. Diesel sells at Rs41.29 per litre in Delhi as against Rs63.7 per litre for petrol and it is believed that the share of diesel in overall car sales is gradually increasing from its 30 per cent share at present.
According to Slym, the company could look at introducing diesel versions on other small cars as well. GM India, meanwhile, has plans to introduce five new vehicles over the next 18 months, which includes a hatchback.
GM produces other vehicles under the Chevrolet brand, including the Spark and Aveo U-VA hatchbacks, the Optra and Aveo sedans, and the Tavera multi-utility vehicle. The company sold 110,804 cars in India in 2010, which it plans to increase to 150,000 vehicles this year and 200,000 next year, according to Slym.