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India on car design map

After Tata Motors launched the Rs 1 lakh wonder Nano, automobile makers have begun exercise to strengthen research and development plans all over the country, reports Deepak Joshi.

autos Updated: Jan 16, 2008 21:23 IST
Deepak Joshi

India is emerging as a major designing and engineering hub for global car manufacturers. With Tata Motors showcasing the country's engineering and research and development prowess through its Rs 1 lakh wonder Nano, automobile makers have begun exercise to strengthen research and development operations here.



Car market leader Maruti Suzuki will treble the number of engineers and designers at its R&D centre in the next three years.



"The existing strength is a little less than 300. It will go up to 1000 in three years", a top company official said. Suzuki has already announced plans to make Concept A-Star and Concept Splash here. Maruti's designers have played a key role in the design of Concept A-Star, which has just been unveiled to the world at the 9th Delhi Auto show.



General Motors India (GMI), the Indian arm of US automobile major, already has significant R&D conducted from Bangalore for its global


operations.



"We have 1,000 engineers and designers working for global operations from Bangalore. Plans are afoot to double the strength at the GM Technical Centre to 2,000 in the next 2-3 years," GMI vice-president P Balendran told the

Hindustan Times

. Hyundai Motor India (HMI), the subsidiary of South Korean automobile major, has 300 engineers at its R&D centre in Chennai. "We will raise it to 1,000 engineers by 2009," HMI spokesman Rajiv Mitra said.



Earlier, Maruti engineers had worked with Suzuki engineers in the design and development of the blockbuster Swift model.



Thereafter, they worked on SX4 and Zen Estilo for launch in India, besides face-lifting the entire range of Maruti models. In the next few years, Maruti expects a rapid flow of new models, including Swift Sedan, A-Star, Splash and in the medium term, the D-segment car Kizashi.


The company is also stepping up work in alternate fuel segments like LPG, where it has achieved resounding success with WagonR Duo and Omni.



"Maruti has an aggressive plan for model launches in the next few years. This will require plenty of design and development work for which we have to step up capability," company official added.