The number of Indian-built models registered by British buyers rose by almost half (48.6 per cent) to 21,135 units in the first half of this year alone.
UK car production fell by -13.7 per cent in June, with 136,901 cars rolling off production lines, according to recent figures released by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The third consecutive month of decline, following changes in production schedules for new model introductions, resulted in a -2.9 per cent year to date dip in output, triggering alarm bells over the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).
India Inc. Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa tracks how India has driven its auto sector on to the road of global success.
Even as you read this piece, there are at least 1,500 passenger cars and 6,000 motorcycles being loaded onto ships at some Indian port for export to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and even the US. The badges they wear read like a veritable who’s who of the international auto industry and include such marquee names as Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, Suzuki and Renault among cars and Honda, Bajaj and Hero MotoCorp among two-wheelers. And I haven’t even mentioned tractors, heavy, medium and light commercial vehicles, three-wheelers and a host of complex and simple auto components.
Over the last three decades, India has developed a very robust domestic automobile sector where the world’s largest and most popular brands jostle for market share with home-grown auto majors such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bajaj Auto Ltd and Hero MotoCorp, among many others.
Today, it is not uncommon to find consumers in the most developed countries in the world driving around in Made in India vehicles. Yes, a vast majority of these vehicles carry the brand names of US, European, Japanese and South Korean companies but make no mistake – each of these cars has been assembled by Indian technicians in Indian factories and mostly with components that are not only made in India but also designed at R&D labs in that country.
Then, it took an Indian enterprise and billions of dollars of Indian investments to restore and renew the glory of iconic British car maker Jaguar Land Rover and revive its fortunes. Another Indian multinational, Apollo Tyres, too, has recently invested about $500-million in a plant in Hungary, its second in Europe after the one in the Netherlands.
All these examples show that the Indian automobile industry is now fully integrated into the global supply chain – and a source of both components and kits as well as fully assembled vehicles to assembly plants, OEMs and showrooms around the world.
In this issue of ‘India Global Business’, we celebrate the global success of this indigenisation effort with our cover story titled ‘Picking up speed’ not only because it is, arguably, among the most successful Make in India initiatives but also because of the lessons it holds for the Narendra Modi government’s efforts to transform India into a global manufacturing hub, which is a precondition to providing new jobs to the millions of young Indians who enter the country’s workforce every year.
The beginnings were small, mostly unheralded and, as is usual with most path breaking economic initiatives in India, widely criticised for opening up the Indian market to foreign players.
Note the similarities with the Modi government’s efforts to build a domestic defence-industrial base in India and its efforts to position India as a global electronics manufacturing hub.
From those small beginnings in the early 1980s, when a handful of Japanese car and two-wheeler makers set up plants to assemble a few thousand units of their vehicles a year from completely or semi knocked down kits imported from their mother countries, India slowly, and organically, developed a local vendor base to bring down the import component in these vehicles to globally acceptable levels and even developed the knowhow and “know why” to be able to develop not only components but complete cars and bikes within the country.
Today, India makes more than 3 million passenger cars and close to 20 million two-wheelers and exports more than half a million of the former and about 2 million of the latter.
China and before it the South East Asian Tiger Economies all followed this approach when they set out to conquer the world of business at various times in the last century.
India is a late adopter of this approach but, as its success in the automobile sector shows, has the necessary wherewithal, including the scientific base and manufacturing capabilities, to replicate this success in other complex engineering sectors.
There are reports that India is considering issuing licenses for the assembly of F-16 or SAAB Gripen fighter planes in India if their parent companies agree to replicate their domestic eco-system of vendors and developments in India. The same is also happening in the case of submarines and artillery guns and small arms.
These initiatives, too, will have to start with limited initial ambitions. But if they are nurtured well and seen through to their logical end, we could well see Made in India fighter planes flying with NATO and Japanese colours one day and consumers in my home country, the UK, speaking on mobile phones and advancing their careers with computers and tablets assembled by an Indian company in England.
Meanwhile, apart from our in-depth feature on the Indian auto sector, there is a usual wealth of material on India’s global march in the pages ahead of this edition.
Tata Communications is at the heart of Formula 1 with a high-tech collaboration, writes a company insider.
F1 is the world’s most technologically advanced sport, and one where every millisecond matters. Whether it’s transmitting data from one of the hundreds of sensors on an F1 car back to the pits, or delivering the action in real-time via an online feed to millions of fans around the world, in this high-pressure, high-tech environment, superfast connectivity is critical.
From a non-existent base 40 years ago, the Indian auto industry has come a long way, writes an industry expert.
Today, India is one of the largest auto industries in the world with an annual production of 25.3 million vehicles, significantly above conventional automotive superpowers such as the US (17.5 million vehicles) and the EU (12.6 million vehicles). The sector directly contributes $97 billion to the Indian economy with automobiles contributing $58 billion and the automotive component sector contributing $39 billion.
An industry expert weighs up this question against data that reflects that nearly 40 to 50 per cent of the $40-billion turnover of the auto component industry comes from the internal combustion (IC) engine powertrain industry.
A rapidly changing powertrain technology landscape, stricter regulations, shifting customer preferences, increasing demand for connectivity and digitisation have become important factors for shaping the future of mobility. The Niti Aayog recently unveiled the vision document for the Indian automotive industry ‘India Leaps Ahead – Transformative Mobility solutions for all’, jointly authored by Rocky Mountain Institute.
India has got its electricity under control but still does not have an answer to its unrelenting thirst for imported crude.
India has invested heavily in building up power plants to the extent there is a glut-like situation today. This year, India’s installed power capacity crossed 300 GW while peak power consumption is estimated in the range of just 140 GW.
The automobile industry continued to make a mark in global sweepstakes during 2016 and looks set to drive through further barriers in the New Year.
While unveiling the new version of its compact sports utility vehicle EcoSport at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month, Michigan-based Ford announced it would be exported to its home country – US – in 2018 from its factory in Chennai.
India’s auto industry has arrived on the global stage but has to learn to adapt to go further.
With annual sales of over 20 million units, the Indian automobile industry is one of the largest in the world. It is the fourth largest market for cars behind China, US and Japan and trails only China in the global pecking order for two wheelers. It has also been one of the fastest growing automobile markets in the world at a time when there are fewer takers for cars around the world. Many believe India will emerge as the third largest market for cars as early as the turn of this decade.