Maruti Suzuki to make India a small car Hub

After overtaking parent Suzuki in annual sales last fiscal, Maruti Suzuki is all set to play a pivotal role in the Japanese auto major's global plans and emerge as an "exclusive base" for small cars. "Quality and productivity have improved manifold in Maruti Suzuki in the last few years. Let us now channelise it to the next level, where we become the exclusive base to manufacture small cars for Europe," Maruti Suzuki MD S Nakanishi said.Nakanishi, who took over reins of the company from Jagdish Khattar last year, told shareholders that the A-Star compact, to be reintroduced as Alto in Europe, would be the first major model towards this end. "Let us do more," he said, while lauding the R&D capability of the Indian subsidiary that had contributed during the design process of the Swift and A-Star.The statement of the Maruti MD is a good news for government, which is promoting India as the manufacturing base for small cars, by offering sops like lower excise duty. Already, South Korea's Hyundai has made India the main hub for some of its small car models like the i10 and Santro, while some other automakers are also working at similar plans.Suzuki would sell the AStar, which would be solely manufactured in India, in Europe from the last quarter of this year. Suzuki plans to export 1 lakh units to begin with, reserving only 50,000 units for the domestic market.It also has plans to increase overall exports four-fold by 2010, against the 53,000 units exported in 2007-08. "We now want to take it to 2 lakh cars annually by 2010-11. Exports will enable the company to be at the frontier of technology, quality and manufacturing excellence," Nakanishi said.The company also plans to strengthen its capability in developing new models from the R&D team in India. "The company has taken a decision to develop its in-house capability with the support of Suzuki. In line with this, the numbers of engineers will be scaled up to 1000 by 2010. The company will also set up an R&D centre and test track, at par with the facility at Suzuki, Japan," Maruti said.

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