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General Motors Co. said Monday it has named a new president and managing director for its India operations, a country where the automaker hopes to grow sales and market share by 2020.

Kaher Kazem, currently chief operating officer of GM India, was appointed to the top position effective Jan. 1. He will replace Arvind Saxena, who has led GM India since early 2014. Saxena has opted to retire, the carmaker said.

India is an important growth market for the Detroit based automaker. Currently, the company loses money there but GM plans to invest $1 billion to produce 10 new Chevrolet vehicles in the next five years and wants to double its 1.8 percent market share by 2020. Analysts say the Indian market could double in size to 5 million sales a year by the end of the decade.

Last year, GM and Chevy sold 56,700 vehicles in India.

Kazem started in 1995 with GM Holden in Australia as a senior engineer. He held several leadership positions at GM Holden manufacturing and in 2009 was named vice president of manufacturing and quality for GM Thailand/ASEAN. In 2012, he was named president and managing director of GM Uzbekistan and earlier this year was appointed to his current position with GM India.

“With Kaher’s hands-on experience and direct knowledge of the business, we are pleased to appoint him to lead GM India at this important time,” GM International President Stefan Jacoby said in a statement. “GM is committed to India for the long term. Kaher’s proven track record will enable us to deliver to Indian consumers the great vehicles they want and the world-class customer experience they deserve.”

mburden@detroitnews.com

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Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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