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Is MG the new GM of India

Morris Garage or MG Motor, a Chinese carmaker carrying the British heritage brand hits India finally. MG Motor India has shared its serious plans to manufacture and sell its cars in India sometime in 2019, probably debuting with an all new SUV -the current market favourite- to take on its traditional rival, the Japanese carmakers that dominate the local market.


MG has somewhat a hazy debut. It starts on a sombre note, carrying the soiled legacy of American carmaker General Motors India (GMI) as it has taken over its manufacturing plant at Halol in Gujarat after the latter’s hastened exit from India. It had also partnered GMI operations with an equity participation when the American carmaker had gone bankrupt in 2009-10.


Also it is boarded with the baggage of some tired and retired executives of GM to steer its operations in India which ideally are heading for a sorry start. Its current President and MD Rajeev Chaba was amongst the few executives who left General Motors on alleged charges of fudging the emission in its vehicles sold in India.


Also, MG did not participate in the 2018 Auto Expo and lost the opportunity to capture customers’ attention. It plans to bring a newly developed seven-seater SUV to India but will have to take on the challenge of South Korean Kia Motor smartly designed cars, which ideally will debut at the same time and made a huge buzz at the Expo.


The legacy of the British badge might come in handy for MG, but there’s hardy any brand equity the Chinese carmaker carries in the Indian market. It going to be very tough and the baggage of GM operations will continue to haunt it for long and beyond its foray as it faces the Indian market and its demanding customers.


Industry experts say that Chinese automakers haven’t been successful in India so far and earlier entrants like Beiqi Foton Motor have failed to crack into the market despite their decade long existence. Foton has a land site in Maharastra since 2010 and is yet to start operations.


So, what makes MG exiting for the Indian market. Value! The Chinese are known for delivering high value products with heavy features something like South Korean Hyundai and its affiliate Kia too. SIAC the parent of MG which also owns other auto brands like Roewe, Maxus amongst others and is the largest Chinese carmaker. The $110 billion entity has the scale and might for an onslaught of products and brands in the Indian market.


It’s the largest Chinese brand with a 23% market share in the home market and will be looking at garnering some credible pie in the water tight Indian market currently dominated by Japanese Maruti Suzuki. Besides it will have to take on the credible competition of homegrown Mahindra& Mahindra’s complete domination in the vast utility vehicle market.


The entry of MG brand of passenger cars in India will be much awaited as it will be a litmus test for a Chinese players that are vying to dominate the global auto scene with their financial might and scale. Or probably its failure will lead it to a similar fate of General Motors that only rues its entry into the Indian market.