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GM India to Introduce Minicar in 2007; CNG and Diesel Variants of Optra

Coming to India? The Chevrolet Matiz/Spark minicar.

The Hindu. GM will launch a minicar in India during the first half of 2007, according to GM India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba.

The minicar—rumored to be the Chevrolet Spark (earlier post)—will be produced at the Halol facility, and benefit from the excise tax cut announced for small cars in India.

“By the end of this year, we will touch an overall production capacity of 85,000 units per annum [at Halol]. Our current sales target for the year being 45,000-50,000 units, we will utilize the additional capacity for the small car,” he added. Asked how the company plans to meet the additional capacity requirement once the mini car rolls out, he said, “We are looking for, and still deciding on the alternative capacity. But at the moment we cannot give a definite answer.”

GM introduced the third-generation Chevrolet Matiz/Spark minicar, manufactured by GM Daewoo in Korea, in 2005.

The new Matiz/Spark features a new 796-cc, three-cylinder gasoline engine that delivers 38 kW (52 hp) of power and a maximum 71.5 Nm (52.7 lb-ft) of torque. Top-speed of the five door model is 135 km/h (84 mph) with 0–100 km/h acceleration of 21.9 seconds.

The European version (Matiz) consumes 5.2 liters/100km combined cycle (45 mpg US) and emits 127 g CO2/km.

According to Chaba, GM will also launch a CNG variant of its premium sedan, Optra, next month and plans to introduce a diesel variant by the first quarter of next year.

The 1.6- and 1.8-liter Optra is based on a platform from GM Daewoo and is manufactured domestically by GM India at the Halol, Gujarat facility.



But not in the US of course... thanks GM for another of your stupid announcements!


allen zheng

The 21 sec 0-60 could be hazardous in the US due to the fleet average 0-60 of ~10 sec. However, an electic boost from their upcoming hyrid transmission could render this issue null.

allen zheng



Again -- don't blame GM (directly) for not releasing a tin-can minicar here in the US. Blame consumers, who are even today generally unwilling to downsize quite that far, and federal safety regulations which, I am sure, make the current Spark/Matiz impossible to sell. For those who find it hard enough to park a normal size car in big cities here at home, a US-qualified Smart will soon be hitting the streets -- while being the same size as the Matiz, it's safer and better made, and costs a whole lot more.

Most modern minicars are not tin-cans, but after having been driven around in a Matiz in Eastern Europe, I think it comes close. For all that, I loved riding around in it -- at least it's better than the old Tico.

For all that we would like to think that GM is in bed with Big Oil and corrupt elements in the US Congress, my impression is that GM often follows the national safety regulations and standards that it encounters around the world, and is surprisingly ineffective at leading them or dictating them. If it had more clout, they would likely have not thrown away the millions they invested in designing the EV1, before tightening safety regs made it impossible to sell. For all that GM profits from each Escalade it sells over here, it also finds it profitable to sell minicars abroad, and would certainly try to find a way to make money on them here if the demand was there and they thought they could make it.

tom deplume

A lack of acceleration is much less of a hazard than a lack of intelligence in the driver's seat. The buses I drove had 0-60 times over 20 seconds and in 24 years not a single bus was rear ended while entering a freeway. Would you happen to now how many 18 wheelers are rear ended when entering a freeway? They are a 1000 times more likely to be rear ended when braking than when accelerating.

John Baldwin

That CNG car looks great....export it to Germany!!

John Ard

You of all people should know then that a slow four-wheeler is a dead four-wheeler. Passenger cars in the U.S. need the ability to dart in traffic so they can get out of the way of professional drivers. The average U.S. driver is just too stupid to drive an underpowered car like this. Maybe a hybrid with a passing boost button would work here. It'd make people feel like they're on Knight Rider. :)


If a 20+ second 0-60 MPH time was really a hazard there would be safety regulations mandating a minimum acceleration rate. Just because the average new car is much faster, doesn't mean everyone else needs to be the same. There are still lots of gutless vehicles from the 1980s on the road (Chrysler K-Cars), driving without causing problems in normal traffic, sure they would lose a street race, but so what? Sounds very similar to the "you need a big heavy vehicle because everyone else has one" argument.

John Ard

Do you drive on American interstates? Some poke along at 55 while others are pretending to be on The Fast and the Furious and nearly running over anything in their way. On a recent trip my Neon's 50-80 acceleration time saved my butt from such an idiot. I don't mean to advocate driving fast or heavy vehicles, but one should look at reality. Reality shows us that American interstates are full of idiots. And a car that can get up and run from an idiot is safer than one that struggles above 60.
Also, my father is a trucker and he would rather all people had Ferraris so they would get away from him so they wouldn't get hurt if he had a blowout or some other problems. Makes sense to me over here in Alabama.

John W.

Hi John Ard, I don't mean to pick on you or anything, but I would question the statement that we "need" the ability to "dart" in traffic too. I guess it depends on how you define "dart." You don't need a car that meets the national average in acceleration to be deemed safe on the road, or even close for that matter. It might help once in a while, sure, but regardless of the idiots out there, if you are aware of your surroundings, and are defensive in your driving, and leave some room to maneuver at all times, you should be fine. Many many more accidents are caused by sudden "dartings" than by people not being able to get from 50 to 80 quickly enough, because they dart first and look/signal/think later. I drove truck for years in Toronto and that is one nasty city for traffic, and my experience matches Tom Deplume's, for what that's worth.

Ironically, I was rear-ended while entering the freeway once, but the guy was having a conversation with someone on his cellphone when he drove right into me. And he had lots of room! Ha, serves him right. Didn't do a thing to the truck bumper either. I suppose that's not very charitable of me, but when you drive in a big city you get tired of seeing certain things all the time.


Powerful car is always safer (if it is FWD). Defensive driving is safer too. BTW, driving in Northern Italy / South France I have troubles to merge into fast moving highway traffic due to very short merging lanes and weak cars I was driving.

Rafael Seidl

The Big Three have been focussed on large sedans, SUVs and pick-up trucks for so long now that they have fallen behind in their ability to execute on low-cost fuel-efficient entry-level vehicles and still turn a profit. In particular, they wasted too much time NOT leveraging the design expertise their European and Asian subsidiaries/parent have in delivering such vehicles.

For selected models, it could be wise to at least execute the virtual portion of the rebadging effort required to meet US market requirements. Doing this pro-actively would shave many months off time to market if and when senior management in the US decides it needs such models in the lineup for a given brand.

John Ard

For the record, I was using "dart" to mean a necessary burst of acceleration. I should've used a different word so as to not conjure images of old women in Buicks fighting over spaces at Wal-Mart. :) I agree that people "darting" (as in weaving in and out of traffic lanes) is far worse than any underpowered car. It is those people I lovingly refer to as idiots. Sorry that I struggle with the necessary eloquence to communicate clearly. My university english classes should beat that out of me this fall.:)


It is already happening. GM is relying more and more for Opel and Korean models for US passenger car market.

Rafael Seidl

Andrey -

I know that is now GM's plan but they waited a very long time to make this policy change and are now paying the price for it. The Chevy Aveo and Saturn Sky are the first examples but two models is not enough.

Ford is even further behind the curve and DCX doesn't really have a low-end brand in Europe (a smart is not excactly cheap).

The consequence is that first-time buyers are flocking to the Japanese brands in droves, both for new and for used vehicles. Given their generally high quality, it will be very difficult for US brands to persuade them to switch when the time comes for them to purchase their next car. That is what I mean when I say there are few costs greater than being late to market.



It is not just two models you mentioned. Current Chevrolet Malibu is effectively Opel Omega, and generally whole Saturn brand is Opel-derived step-up for adaptation of Opel cars in US, including bread-and-butter Chevy Cobalt, to name a few. It is also included Opel engines and other German-built components such as Bosch fuel injection systems and alike.

I appreciate this trend, because in-house CAR developments of GM are way inferior to their European and Korean divisions models.

mohammed waliullah

when is the chervolet matiz is going to launch in india

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