Chinese carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC) took the covers off its much anticipated SUV, the MG Hector here today. The Chinese carmaker which has joint-ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen Group in the Chinese market and is the largest automobile manufacturer in China has been planning its India foray for years. It is entering India with the old British brand MG that it acquired via another purchase when MG-Rover closed operations in the United Kingdom. However, the carmaker has gone out of its way to highlight the ‘British’ nature of their new product, even hiring Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch to be the brand ambassador for the brand in India.
The MG Hector whose price is yet to be disclosed will go on sale from next month and the carmaker which took over General Motors old plant in Halol, Gujarat and is staffed by several former General Motors India hands, including Rajeev Chaba, MG Motors India President and Managing Director. Chaba said that MG India will start operations with 120 touchpoints across the country and expects to have over 190 touchpoints by the end of 2019. The Hector, which is named after the Trojan prince in Classical Greek epic the Iliad, will have both petrol and diesel engine options with 150Ps and 170PS respectively and will come with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It will also feature a 48 volt electrical system and an onboard lithium-ion battery to power start-stop technology and engine boosting.
However, MG India expects the internet connectivity of the car to be the unique selling proposition of the Hector. Advertising ‘Internet Inside’ on its boot lid, the Hector comes with SAIC’s ‘i-Smart’ technology that includes several voice-activated features, live traffic and weather updates, streaming services and others and according to Chaba, the Hector will continually get ‘over the air’ updates throughout its life. He also reiterated that the vehicle is powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud system and all the vehicular data collected will reside in India, allaying fears expressed by some whether the data will be transmitted back to China, although those doubts were not completely eliminated.
The Hector, which has been extensively road tested in India, and Chaba also highlighted the fact that the Hector has also undergone months of ‘voice recognition’ training to understand INdian accents. It will be competing against the likes of the Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan. Chaba was also fairly confident that the Indian automotive industry which has been sales decline sharply over the past few months will recover in the post-election environment.