In­dia Turns Key Cog in Global Auto In­dus­try

In­ter­na­tional auto cos now mak­ing country a train­ing ground for best prac­tices

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Ke­tan.Thakkar@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: In the past nine months, Mercedes-Benz brought some 80-90 Brazil­ians, in three batches, to its plant at Chakan in Pune. They were here for train­ing on some crit­i­cal pro­cesses of ve­hi­cle assem­bly, body and paint shop func­tion­ing, and an area where In­dia has demon­strated its prow­ess — com­pact cars. Ex­ec­u­tives from Chakan are now sched­uled to travel to the Ger­man com­pany’s fa­cil­ity at the town of Iracemapo­lis in Sao Paulo to of­fer the Brazil­ians some on­site train­ing and help in set­ting up a paint shop.

In­dia, with its fru­gal man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, is known al­ready as a base for pro­duc­ing small cars for the world. Au­tomak­ers have now started ex­port­ing big­ger cars and en­gines from here, and are also re­ly­ing on lo­cal re­search & de­vel­op­ment (R&D) to de­velop ve­hi­cles. With the country be­com­ing a train­ing ground as well, and lo­cal sites defin­ing the best prac­tices for those else­where to fol­low, In­dia is seen as etch­ing its mark deep as a key cog in the global au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try.

This is also a demon­stra­tion of the con­fi­dence that au­to­mo­bile ma­jors have in their In­dian man­agers and an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the hard work they have put into cre­at­ing well-oiled oper­a­tions, said in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives.

“I be­lieve it’s like a two-way traf­fic. You’ve to per­form and prove your­self and at the same time you also need ac­knowl­edge­ment,” said Piyush Arora, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of oper­a­tions at Mercedes-Benz In­dia. “Our HQ (head­quar­ters) has shown a lot of courage and con­fi­dence. They’ve en­trusted with us train­ing a third country; this shows the con­fi­dence the HQ has in us,” added Arora.

He­mant Dua, CEO of Delhi Dare­dev­ils, blamed the feast of cricket and ab­nor­mally high tem­per­a­tures.

“This has pos­si­bly hap­pened be­cause of too much cricket of the T20 for­mat in re­cent months and of course also be­cause of the ex­ces­sive heat that has hit us ear­lier than nor­mal,” he said. Delhi Dare­dev­ils won the game at the Kotla against Kings XI Pun­jab by 37 runs on April 15. Heat was also seen as the rea­son for lower-than-usual at­ten­dance at the Ra­jiv Gandhi In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium in Hy­der­abad. At the first game be­tween Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad and Kolkata Knight Riders, the tem­per­a­ture soared to 45 de­grees Cel­sius, which is un­usual for the month of April. The sta­dium was only half full.

“If it wasn’t for the heat, we would have seen more crowds at the sta­dium, es­pe­cially be­cause the city did not get any T20 World Cup game,” said Vikram Mans­ingh, me­dia man­ager and com­mit­tee mem­ber of the Hy­der­abad Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion, which owns the sta­dium. Apart from low­er­ing at­ten­dance fig­ures, the heat­wave has im­pacted IPL in other ways. A dozen matches have had to be moved out of drought-hit Ma­ha­rash­tra af­ter a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion was filed over wa­ter be­ing used in the up­keep of pitches and other sta­dium fa­cil­i­ties. That has prompted some talk of mov­ing the tour­na­ment out of In­dia. Ness Wa­dia, co-owner of Kings XI Pun­jab, also cited the cricket sur­feit but said things will get bet­ter as the IPL pro­gresses. Mo­hali held three T20 World Cup games last month. How­ever, some venues such as Ra­jkot and Pune, which haven’t hosted T20 games this year, racked up good at­ten­dance fig­ures. Arvin­der Singh, CEO of the In­tex-owned Gu­jarat Lions team, said the game against Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giants at Ra­jkot saw 90% at­ten­dance. The day game on April 24 against Royal Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore is sold out, he said. This may also have some­thing to do with Gu­jarat Lions do­ing well in their first out­ing and stand­ing sec­ond in the points ta­ble, hav­ing won three of their four games so far. Mans­ingh of the Hy­der­abad Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion feels that with Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad win­ning their last two games on the trot, the home crowd should flock to the sta­dium de­spite the heat.

For Kolkata, the last IPL match was on April 13 and the next one is on May 4, which would come as a wel­come break from cricket, ac­cord­ing to Subra­ma­nian of CAB. “The gap and school hol­i­days in May should bring back the crowds,” a hope­ful Subra­ma­nian said.While the heat kept peo­ple away from the sta­di­ums, it didn’t move them away from their tele­vi­sion screens. Ac­cord­ing to data from BARC In­dia, the ninth sea­son of IPL opened with “de­cent” view­er­ship and cu­mu­la­tive im­pres­sions of 145.75 mil­lion for the first seven matches across three chan­nels — Sony Max, Sony Six and Sony ESPN. Im­pres­sions are a mea­sure of num­ber of view­ers at any given point of time dur­ing the tele­cast of the match. The seven matches were played be­tween April 9 and 15.

Over the next few weeks, the teams are hop­ing that more peo­ple get en­thused enough to turn up at the sta­di­ums to cheer them on, es­pe­cially since there’s no sign of respite on the weather front.

ANIR­BAN

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