In GM’s darkest hour, in December 2009, GM and SAIC cut a strange deal: GM ceded control of the 50:50 China joint venture by selling 1 percent to SAIC. GM also transferred half of GM’s India operations to the Chinese company. GM received a $400 million line of credit. SAIC received access to the Indian market, which it had coveted, but the Indians had sworn to keep the Chinese out. Now they rode in on GM’s coattails.
At the New Delhi auto expo, GM India yesterday “unveiled the first two products from its joint venture with SAIC,” while our friends of Motorbeam.com were in attendance to snap pictures. As announced two years ago, the first products are of the “small trucks and passenger cars” variant, but not much else survived the test of time.
The passenger car is not the Nano-killing $3,500 sub-Spark model that was dreamt up by the Indian press last year, and the truck is no cheap Wuling.
The car is a “Chevrolet Sail premium hatchback,” and the truck is a big 8-seater MPV, spacious enough for big Indians with big families.
Not much else is available officially on the two cars. The Sail will have “GM India’s latest Smartech engines,” in both gasoline and diesel engines (but wait until you read which one.) Speaking of fuel, it is housed in a fuel tank in the middle of the car, surrounded by “steel beam-rolling ribs” and the members of the family.
The MPV is just a concept. It has input from Lotus, which worked with GM India “for more than a year and a half to tune the chassis.”
The choice of diesel engines is interesting: According to Motorbeam, the diesel engine both for the Sail and the MPV concept will get a 1.3 liter FIAT diesel engine. This is not in the official press release.