As it prepares to make the mid-size SUV Astor its new entry-level model for India, MG Motor is aiming to double production capacity at its Gujarat plant to cater to additional demand.
From a single shift, with a monthly output of 4,000 units, MG Motor will ramp up production to 7,500 units a month and beyond next year. This will help the company cater to incremental demand for the new model, which is slated to hit the market in the next few weeks.
“Our current capacity at Halol, Gujarat, is around 80,000-85,000 units a year. Our attempt will be to utilise and maximise the opportunity within Halol itself and see how much more we can produce from the same factory. Can we scale up to 100,000? That is something we are looking at,” Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commercial Officer, MG Motor India, told Moneycontrol.
The Astor SUV, which is set to compete against the Hyundai Creta, Tata Harrier, Kia Seltos and Mahindra XUV700, is a mid-size SUV built using the electric MG ZS platform. The new five-seater SUV is set to become India’s first product in the segment that comes with a claimed artificial intelligence (AI) feature.
The Astor, whose actual prices could be revealed in the first week of October, will have Level 2 autonomous driving features such as automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, rear drive assist, intelligent headlamps and a speed assist system.
The SUV also has a personal AI assistant that can take voice commands for a variety of features such as controlling the sunroof, air-conditioning, infotainment functions and making hands free calls. Given the expensive set of features, MG Motor is likely to position the Astor at a premium compared to the model’s rivals.
“The car carries a lot of bells and whistles. We have seen some recent launches crossing the Rs 18 lakh price tag and they don’t have the features seen on the Astor,” Gupta added.
Chip shortage impact
The expansion of the Halol plant’s capacity and ramping up of Astor’s output will also depend on the availability of semiconductors. Like the rest of the industry, MG Motor has been struggling to match production with demand, leading to an extended waiting period for its models. Gupta claimed that the Hector and the ZS EV have a waiting period of 3-4 months.
“Our production is down by 30-40 percent. Shipments are constrained because of the lack of containers and slow clearance at ports. Indian ports are choked and it takes a lot of time to get berths,” said Gupta.
“Like everybody else we are also severely impacted by the chip shortage and this has affected production. The situation is changing on a regular basis and it is unpredictable. We are trying to bring the Astor in the festive season. We will attempt to bring it out between Dussehra and Diwali,” Gupta added.
MG Motor’s maiden EV in India, the ZS, is the second-largest-selling electric car in the country. The Rs 20 lakh SUV has the biggest drive range among all the EVs sold in India. To capitalise on this success MG is working on a second EV for the country, to be priced below the ZS.
“We are committed to electric vehicles and are even looking at battery assembly in India. We are working on another EV that will be priced under Rs 20 lakh. It will be manufactured in India,” Gupta added.
Market watchers say that MG Motor is working on a smaller-capacity battery with a smaller drive range for this new EV, which would again have the body style of an SUV.