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Friday, 4 April, 2008 10:14 PM

From Curry To Cars: India Is In The Global Auto Market To Stay

Photo Credit: Telegraph.co.uk and Tata Motors

The Nano (The People's Car) is Tata Motors $2,500 car.


by Mike Wrathell
mwrathell@yahoo.com

 

 

"Tell me, how was it that you ruined such a
mighty commonwealth as yours so quickly?"

-----Naevius



The Society of Automotive Analysts hosted a "Networking Breakfast" on Wednesday morning at The Somerset Inn in India, I mean, in Troy, on Indian automobiles in the global marketplace. Say Tata to East Asia's monopoly on cheap cars flooding American and Canadian dealerships -- now the Asian subcontinent is gearing up to join the fire sale!

The three speakers from India (Mr. Anjan Chatterjee, Senior Advisor -- Automotive from Chanin Capital Partners, Mr. Anil Hingwe, President & CEO of Bharat Forge America, and Mr. Madhu Naidu, Director of Ducker Worldwide) were surprisingly and refreshingly frank about shortcomings plaguing the Indian auto industry (a pleasant contrast from most of the Chinese CEOs who spoke at the Auto Show in January), outlining rampant, seemingly-inherent corruption in politicians and environmental standards inspectors, a black market as large as the GNP (Gross National Product), cars that are inferior to their American, Japanese, European, and Korean counterparts, and China's utter monopoly on tires in India. (Apparently, China has access to cheap materials and makes synthetic rubber tires in its sleep.)

Unlike Chinese auto companies, though, one of which plans to launch the first Chinese-made car in North America later this year, India is years away from such. However, now that India's Tata Motors bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Company, India has a foot in our red, white, and blue door. Tata Motors has no plans to move those operations to India, by the way; they are happy just to reap in the profits for the foreseeable future. However, Tata will study Land Rover's algorithms in a quest to learn how to make a high-performance powertrain, it was stated.

The Nano (The People's Car) is Tata Motors $2,500 car that has two cylinders and one of the speakers sarcastically said that it "has to be kick-started." It is essentially "four tires and a shell." It is not destined for the U.S.A., but might be offered someday in "the fourth world," i.e., Africa. It costs 100,000 rupees in India. It makes a golf cart look like a Rolls-Royce.

One of the speakers said that "the lack of environmental standards in India is seen as a competitive advantage." Also, environmental inspectors at manufacturing plants in India are very receptive to bribery. Wow, no wonder India wants to remain exempted from the framework of The Kyoto Protocol....

On a positive note, in the capital city of New Delhi, all taxi cabs are required to run on liquified natural gas, which burns a lot cleaner than gasoline. There might be a few cheaters, but like those 50 lawyers at the bottom of The Indian Ocean, it's a good start....

One last thing that I would be remiss were I not to mention it, one of the speakers mentioned how it is now cheaper for Indian companies to make a lot of their parts and products here in America. Mr. Paul Lienert, President & Editorial Director of Global Auto Systems, Inc. in Dexter, the emcee of The Breakfast interjected wittily and most astutely that this phenomenon is "reverse off-shoring." Gee, have we gone from a first-world nation to a third-world country these eight years? I hope not.

Maybe that oatmeal they served us will be our meal three times a day if our economy continues to tank, but hopefully we can supplement it with those six for five bucks teevy dinners from Meijer's and the perhaps-soon-to-come dollar menus at Mon Jin Lau in Troy and The Chettinad in Sterling Heights. Stay tuned.

Related Story: China Comes To The Auto Show To Be A Princess, Too

Related Story: Ford Motor Company Announces Agreement to Sell Jaguar Land Rover to Tata Motors

 

 

 

 

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