General Motors, one of the two major American automotive giants based in Motor City, yesterday dropped the mother of all bombs on its Indian customers when it announced that it would stop sales of Chevrolet-branded cars in India.
General Motors, one of the two major American automotive giants based in Motor City, yesterday dropped the mother of all bombs on its Indian customers when it announced that it would stop sales of cars in India.
GM's latest foray into India started in 1994, but the company was a well-known brand in pre-independence India where it sold multiple Chevrolet cars, buses and trucks that were assembled in the country starting from the 1920s.
In 1954, the Detroit-based automaker shut shop and left India. However, GM continued to build vehicles in India in partnership with Hindustan Motors till it returned to the country to form General Motors India Private Limited in a 50-50 partnership with Hindustan Motors.
However, after 23 years of struggling in a highly competitive car market and contributing to less than one percent of car sales in the country, GM threw in the towel and announced that it would stop sales of its Chevrolet brand in the country.
While the news will upset GM fans in the country, the truth is that the American carmaker never really made an impact on the Indian conscious.
Chevrolet sold many hatchbacks including the Beat and the Spark in India along with two utility vehicles: Tavera and Enjoy, along with the sporty Cruze sedan and the huge Trailblazer SUV.
However, only the Tavera managed to make a mark as far as sales are concerned, which was mostly because it was a hit at Yellow Board Central.
Now two big questions need to be answered. Will Chevrolet supply parts and how will Chevrolet car owners go about servicing their vehicles?
Chevrolet has promised to maintain a service network in key locations across the country. However, the company has not specified where exactly these service centres will be located.
The bitter truth is that Chevrolet owners are going to find themselves in the same boat that Opel customers found themselves after GM-owned German brand shut shop in India to make way for Chevrolet in 2006.
Opel India Pvt Ltd (OIPL) continued to support vehicle servicing and supplied spare parts to existing Opel vehicle owners. However, the support was never strong enough and getting spare parts across the counter was a migraine inducing problem.
I say this because a friend of mine owned an Opel Astra, and the vehicle had serious issues with its radiator and getting parts was a big chore every time something went wrong. In the end, my friend sold off his car chump change a few years back.
While Chevrolet's cars are good, the news that GM is pulling out of the country could induce many panic sales from customers trying to leave what they consider to be a sinking ship. So, what should you do? Panic and sell your gold bowed car?
DriveSpark suggests, if your Chevrolet is running without any issues, you should stop and get your grey cells working before deciding to sell your car in haste.
While many would question your decision, the fact that Chevrolet may not be able to supply parts to everyone could be the perfect opportunity for part suppliers to step in and make a name for themselves.
On the other hand, this could also be the perfect opportunity for Chevy fans looking to get their hands on the cars they've dreamed of for a long time. (the ballistic Cruze is the first car that comes to mind).
So if can get a hold of a Chevrolet that is running nicely, and have the local mechanic on speed dial, you can easily keep the car running. There are tonnes of old cars still running on Indian roads, and Chevy's are undoubtedly good cars, so they should run for ages with the proper TLC.
However, cruzing around in a Chevy is not going to be easy, as GM has shut shop and not just discontinued a model for being old and outdated.
There are positives and negatives with the whole GM shutdown. Chevrolet cars are now going to have lower resale value and getting parts and service support is going to be a pain in the backside. On the other hand, for those who love to gamble, a hefty discount on the price tag could keep them cruising around in style.
Life is all about ups and downs. Let us know your Chevy story! And if you're jumping ship and own a Cruze do keep us in the loop.
(With inputs from Jobo Kuruvilla)