MG Motor to drive in electric SUV in India by first half of 2020

By Munish Shekhavat

SHANGHAI: MG Motor India, a wholly-owned arm of China’s SAIC Motor Corp, will roll out a locally manufactured pure-electric SUV by first half of 2020, within one year of its first product launch in the country, a top company official said Monday.

The company, also plans to launch a mid-sized SUV with petrol and diesel powertrains in the second quarter of 2019.

MG Motor would manufacture the electric SUV at its Halol plant in Gujarat.

“MG will launch a globally-competitive pure-electric SUV in India, to make our contribution to India’s energy and environmental strategies,” SAIC Motor Executive Director International Business Michael Yang told reporters here.

Yang, however, did not share details regarding the size as well as range of the electric SUV.

On company’s product strategy in India, MG Motor India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba said, the company will launch one new model in the country every year going ahead.

“It (electric SUV) is just the first product. We have proven capability in terms of electric vehicle (EVs). Depending upon the policy and regulations scenario in India we would take a call on launching more of such products in the country,” he said.

When asked if lack of policy for EVs could be a deterrent for the company, Yang said “globally, there is a trend to move towards environment friendly vehicles. Indian government is pretty clear that electric is the way forward. There is no policy at the moment but we are not there (India) for short term. We are looking at the country with a long term perspective.”

Terming India as an important market for SAIC, Yang said the company would try to enhance localisation content in products for Indian market keeping in mind local conditions and customer requirements.

According to Chaba, SAIC has proven technology in terms of EVs and the company is gearing up for a long haul in terms of products with green technologies.

The company can add another 1 lakh unit manufacturing capacity at Halol plant itself depending upon the market condition.

“We are investing USD 500 million in India by next year for the first phase. As we are in for a long term we will expand to second phase as well,” he said adding this should be enough for first 3-4 years and then we can go for second phase of expansion.

The Halol plant currently has a capacity to roll out 80,000 units per annum.

The company also plans to build its own office in Gurgaon, including a brand store, for which it has earmarked an investment of around Rs 100 crore.

The automaker also plans to hire close to 1,500 employees by the end of 2019, compared with a strength of 300 employees at present.

MG Motor had acquired Halol plant from General Motors last year.

SAIC sells over 6.5 million vehicles annually around the world. MG Motor sells a range of products, including hatchback MG3 and SUV MG GS in the European market.

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