Over the past two years or so, growing investment in developing automotive R&D hubs in India is no doubt one of the most interesting trends seen across India. In fact the the Government expects the automobile sector to attract anything between $ 7-10 billion in local and foreign investments by end of this calendar year. Given the promisingprospects, the Financial Expess Commercial Conclave 2023, held recently in Pune, decided to delve deeper into this topic.
One of the key panel discussions at the CV Conclave probed the various dynamics of the Making India a global manufacturing hub and ways to boost the share of exports from India. The panelists comprised of representatives of the various segments of the commercial vehicle space from light commercial vehicles to heavy duty construction equipmet makers and even looked at bringing forth the regulator’s perspective.
Sulajja Firodia Motwani, founder and CEO, Kinetic Green highlighted how electric light mobility vehicles are playing a key role in revolutionising commercial vehicles in the last mile segment. According to her, “India has a huge opportunity to become a global manufacturing hub in the small-form segment – three-wheelers, quadricycles and two-wheelers in the commercial space. India can be a global hub for design and manufacturing. It can be a supplier of components and vehicles for the last mile especially in light mobility.”
However, Anil Baliga, President, Eka Mobility pointed out that though infrastructure development is underway in a big way, the kind of meticulous attentio to details that get the quality right is still missing in India. He cited the example of how Volvo
Ramesh Palagiri, MD, Wirtgen India explained that with the infrastructure boom in the last few years, Indian OEMs are now already manufacturing nearly 20-50% of construction equipment for the world. “OEMs globally have recognised that we can produce world class quality in India. India is cost competitive, even compared to China. As long as India continues to focus on quality, there is huge potential for India to be a manufacturing hub for the world,” he added.
On the R&D front, India has a huge potential too. He gave the example of his own parent company and said that nearly 25 per cent of John Deere’s R&D is underway in India.
However, policy requirements are also crucial while we are looking at creating a world-class manufacturing hub. “The initial regulations for CVs were all driven towards diesel. Now regulations are being enabled for all – CNG, LNG, BioCNG, methanol, hydrogen. But it hasn’t transferred into the field because of infrastructure gaps,” says Dr. S.S. Thipse, senior deputy director, ARAI.
Regulation-wise we are all for new technologies, but safety has to be kept in mind. “Rules can be made as strict as possible, but implementation still needs to be addressed,” he added.
As manufacturers globally are looking for a China plus one alternative, India is emerging as a string contender but the speakers were unanimous in highlighting that ease of doing business is something India needs to improve on, but it’s also an opportunity. They focussed on the need for greater attention to quality and safety but were optimistic that people will come to India to make in India