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Khattar back on driver’s seat

autos Updated: Sep 30, 2008 22:51 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times
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Jagdish Khattar, who was at the helm of Maruti Suzuki India till December last year, on Tuesday launched his own entrepreunerial venture Carnation Auto. And to back him on this, Khattar has the support of Azim Premji, chairman, Wipro, whose fund PremjiInvest has committed Rs 80 crore to the venture.

To begin withy, Carnation will address servicing, mechanical repair and body shop needs of consumers across brands but Khattar said, eventually it will be a one stop solution for all vehicluar needs.

“Our vision is to develop India’s largest independent multi brand automobile sales and service network,” Khattar said. “From sales and servicing of new cars to used cars and accessories we will cater to everything, a buyer will ever need in a car.”

With an initial investment of Rs 100 crore, the first six outlets or auto solution hubs will be operational early next year in the National Capital region, Hyderabad and Cochin. Over five years, it will be present in 100 locations across 65 cities at an investment of Rs 1000 crore. Apart from Premji, IFCI ventures is investing Rs 28 crore.

“The idea came in 2006 when as the MD of Maruti we did an exercise to assess its service and network requirement,” Khattar said. “The figure we arrived at was Rs 4,000-5,000 crore, which got me thinking how much would be the total requirement of the industry.”

While the idea may be compelling enough, it is clearly Khattar’s brand equity that makes Carnation tick.

“While we are enthused by the scope of the project and its potential, it is Khattar's presence that has a strong pull in the eyes of an average consumer,” said Syed Mustafa, director, PremjiInvest who will join the board of directors of Carnation Auto.