Arvind Saxena appointed as MD of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in India

Volkswagen, a leading German car manufacturer has announced Arvind Saxena as the managing director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in India.

Saxena, former director, sales & marketing at Hyundai India, will now be heading the Volkswagen brand with responsibility of sales, after sales & marketing, said the statement issued by the company on Wednesday.

ET had exclusively reported in July that Saxena was looking at growth options with leading automotive companies in the country including Volkswagen India.

Gerry Dorizas, president & MD, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited said, “”We are confident that his (Saxena’s) extensive experience in the Indian automotive sector will contribute towards the growth of the Brand.””

With the appointment of Saxena, Volkswagen has created a new position of managing director in the company. He will manage the function of Neeraj Garg, who was member of board, director – passenger cars, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited.

With over 3 decades of experience in the automotive industry, Saxena has worked for various automobile majors like Bajaj Auto, Maruti Suzuki, Fiat India and Hyundai India. He has assumed various roles right from area manager, regional marketing manager, general manager, dealer development, chief general manager sales, VP sales & marketing to director & member of Board at Hyundai India, when he made this move.

This appointment is part of the major churn in the automotive industry. Just last week, Tata Motors appointed Karl Slym as the managing director of the company.Ford India has appointed Vinay Piparsania as the new executive director, marketing, sales and service, who is likely to take charge from 1 stof September from Nigel Wark.

And Nissan’s marketing arm Hover Automotive recently recalled Nitish Tipnis to lead sales and marketing role, taking charge from Dinesh Jain. Hyundai India will now be on the look out to replace Arvind Saxena’s position.

THE NEW LINE UP FOR GMC TERRAIN-2016

There are as of now heaps of players in the white-hot minimized hybrid portion. The GMC Terrain, having changed little since its presentation in 2009 as the littlest of the truck brand’s “Proficient Grade” vehicles. While we expect a more conservative and effective update to show up inside the following year or something like that, the present Terrain—and its Chevrolet Equinox stage mate—fights into its seventh year of a generation well past its offer by date.

MODIFICATIONS

Regardless of some minor redesigns, the 2016 Terrain to a great extent continues as before as the model that completed 6th in an eight-vehicle examination test in 2010. The reach extended for 2013 when the top-end Denali model was added to the lineup, and a discretionary 301-hp 3.6-liter V-6 ($1500) was included in the meantime. Front-wheel drive and a wheezy 182-hp 2.4-liter four-chamber stay standard, and you can choose the all-wheel drive for an extra $1750 with AMG rims. In any case, more up to date contenders, for example, the most recent Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5—all effectively surpass the GMC as far as refinement, execution, and drivability.

LORD CHROME

To overhaul its appearance, GMC has given the most recent Terrain a taller, molded grille with significantly more chrome, and also LED daytime running lights, a protruding “force arch” hood, and reconsidered front and back guards with extra glossy bits. The look is still clearly stout, yet with a gentler, less mechanical manner. Purchasers of the premium model like our V-6 AWD test vehicle can delight in its impressive façade, the plenty of Denali identifications, and extraordinary “smoked mahogany” wood trim.

INTERIOR

The inside gets a couple of redesigns and some new discretionary hardware that was already Denali-particular with new AMG rims. The focal, seven-inch touch-screen interface now has a more keen design, yet the presentation is generally little and far from the driver, and the encompassing controls are small and randomly orchestrated. A 4G LTE OnStar association, an inherent Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple’s Siri Eyes Free availability are incorporated. Our illustration included the discretionary route framework with GMC’s IntelliLink for $495.

WHAT ELSE

Substantial swaths of hard plastics with sharp edges and incomprehensible board holes litter the lodge. What’s more, the pixilated, red-toned data screen in the instrument group looks like something out of an old Coleco computer game. Considering the Denali’s premium value point, it’s feeling the loss of some normal civilities, for example, keyless ignition, auto-up windows, and double zone atmosphere control—found in more up to date passage level compacts. The Denali comes standardised with remote begin, a premium Pioneer sound framework, and a large number of driver helps (forward-crash, path takeoff, blind side, and back cross-movement alarms).

How To Find Top Notch Auto Repair Shop

Finding a trusted auto repair shop that gives you services that meet your expectation, sometimes, it feels like looking something on the dark. It is hard. Ironically, the reason is not because the option is tiny, but for the opposite reason. There is huge numbers of auto repair shops, though the good one is not that many. The best thing you can do to get the best technician to treat your vehicle is by searching your preference option prior. That is why you need to source http://champsfamilyautomotive.com  to give you idea toward reputable auto shop to rely on.

Noticing an auto repair shop, it can’t be done in a short time. But here some things to put in mind about how to pick trusted auto repair shop, and why you should to consider the site above. Experience in doing what they are doing, that is a very crucial matter to consider. Within many years doing in the same industry, it means they deal with many cases related to auto repair and so on. Not to mention about their quality, as their existence tells everything.

Nevertheless, to give you assurance toward your option for auto repair shop, find them through review site and note only the review but the rating that is given to that certain auto repair shop. Ask for referrals from friends, it is also a good starter. Take a look toward what they serve you and pay attention toward the kind of vehicles they able to deal with. If you pay attention there are some auto repair shops that focus the auto repair on certain area like only engine system or some. Something similar applies when it comes to the cubical vehicles within their services. The good news, you will discovery as well auto repair shops, let say, very versatile.

Simply say, they give you various options for the services from computer and diagnosis, fluid leaks, accessories, electrical and lighting, to something more complicated like engine department and some. For the vehicles to handle, if not all, they are able to repair almost any model from both domestic manufactures or abroad. Which one to choose? The next thing is about the technician. Put your eyes only to auto repair that guarantee you technicians with ASE certification or other accredited qualification that confirms that their technicians are well trained.

Assume that both options cater you with ASE certified technicians, even though it is all about preference, but choosing the one that gives you many options, you know that your needs for auto repair can’t be met. Well trained staffs are not enough. Technology is what you should note. Human has limits, when it comes to car diagnose. It is not because they are not reliable enough, but there is something that can’t be done by human, but with the help of technology. The combination of the two not lead to excellent result, there is no need for you to wait that long.

Using technology when diagnose the problem that may occur, it doesn’t take so much time unlike if the process is performed by human only. Not only faster, it is only way more accurate in predicting the problem. The technology that is used should be the latest one for its better benefit and reliability. Lastly, about the price. How much you set for the auto repair? Do you think it’s enough? To get great service for auto reaper, it is not always about something expensive, as some of good auto repair offers competitive price for excellent service that they get.

Luxury Car Company VLF Automotive Launches

Car designer Henrik Fisker, former General Motors Co. executive Bob Lutz and manufacturer Gilbert Villarreal on Friday launched a new luxury car company, VLF Automotive, which is slated to present two vehicles at the Detroit auto show next week.

Mr. Fisker makes official an emerging partnership that began to take shape in 2013, when the three men teamed to present the VL Destino, a 638-horsepower car born out of Mr. Fisker’s scrapped effort to build an electric vehicle, at that year’s Detroit auto show.

“When Gilbert and I formed VL Automotive in 2012, we wanted to take Henrik’s beautifully proportioned design, replace the hybrid gas-electric power train with a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 drivetrain, and create a bespoke four-door luxury car with outstanding performance,” said Mr. Lutz.

The newly minted company will be based in Auburn Hills, Mich., with Mr. Lutz as chairman, Mr. Villarreal as chief executive and Mr. Fisker heading design.

The company is slated to present a redesigned Destino and a second car, the Force 1, at the coming auto show.

VLF expects to have seven dedicated dealers in the U.S. with several more overseas this year. The Destino V8 retail price starts at $229,000.

Mr. Fisker earlier this week filed a $100 million civil suit against his former employer Aston Martin, which he claims is trying to prevent him from showing his new car.

The suit claims civil extortion, asking for punitive damages of $100 million, and declaratory relief, which asks the court to declare whether Mr. Fisker’s new car design infringes on trademarks owned by Aston Martin.

Calls seeking comment from Aston Martin weren’t immediately returned.

Mr. Fisker had joined Aston Martin in 2001 and worked there through 2004, designing the V8 Vantage and the DB9. He left the company to start his own electric-car business, Fisker Automotive Inc., which raised $1.2 billion in venture capital and a $192 million federal loan before filing for bankruptcy. He resigned from Fisker Automotive in 2013.

Mr. Lutz held senior leadership positions at GM, BMW, Ford and Chrysler over the course of a 47-year career. The 83-year-old Mr. Lutz stepped down from his position at GM in 2010.

Big SUVs Fuel U.S. Auto Production Boom

hree years ago, Lili Rodriguez gambled when she transferred from General Motors Co. ’s small-car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, to GM’s plant in north Texas making full-size sport-utility vehicles.

As the U.S. auto industry was on the mend after a near-financial collapse in 2009, low-cost passenger cars like Lordstown’s compact Chevrolet Cruze were driving its recovery. With the national average for a gallon of gasoline costing about $3.50 at the time of Ms. Rodriguez’s move, sales of Arlington’s full-size SUVs were declining.

The tables have turned for the U.S. auto industry and Arlington is among the biggest winners. GM is committing $1.4 billion to upgrade the factory, part of tens of billions in U.S. capacity investments planned for the next several years by Volvo Car Corp., Ford Motor Co. , Daimler AG and other car makers.

Light-vehicle sales are on track to hit a record in 2015, and an increasing bulk of those units are hulking highly-profitable models like the Chevrolet Suburbans, Tahoes, Cadillac Escalades and GMC Yukons that roll off an Arlington assembly line running six days a week, building 16.5% more vehicles through the first 11 months in 2015 than in the same period a year ago. GM posted record profit in the third quarter; with its SUV plant—one of the most profitable auto factories in the world—contributing much of the earnings.

The development has helped further insulate Texas’ economy at a time when its energy industry is under pressure. While low oil prices have hurt the state’s economy, most Lone Star state cities are holding employment steady or gaining due to a diversified job market, including more openings in auto factories owned by GM, Toyota Motor Corp. and parts suppliers.

Nearly 5% of light trucks built in the U.S., were the 300,000 full-size SUVs made in Arlington. The factory’s revival has encouraged Ms. Rodriguez to put down roots here. “Texas is my home now,” she says.

The industry’s contribution to Arlington’s good fortune is replicated in communities across America as gains in exports of U.S.-built cars and trucks lend additional momentum to production levels. The trend is boosting employment at dealerships as well, with head count at new-car stores up 5% according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Wardsauto.com reports U.S. light-vehicle production nearly topped 11 million over the first 11 months of 2015, 4% higher than the same period in 2014. The level is about 3% higher than the same period in 2005, the last time auto sales and demand for light trucks were nearly this strong.

One thousand miles north of Arlington, the economic fortunes of America’s heartland are helping fuel GM’s SUV boom. “People are fixing their houses; the carpenters, the plumbers and the electricians need new cars and trucks,” John Bergstrom, owner of Bergstrom Automotive in Neenah, Wis., told employees at a Ford dealership in late December.

Mr. Bergstrom said new Jeeps drive off his lots almost as soon as they arrive, and the demand for pickups is through the roof. On a tour of the car dealerships his company owns across the state, he says the good times can continue with the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads hitting a record 11.5 years at the end of 2014.

Driving to another meeting at a Chrysler dealership in Kaukauna, he said his stores saw an immediate boost when Oshkosh’s new business was announced.

“One of the first things people do when they get a job is buy a new car,” he said. With state unemployment at one of its lowest points since the 1990s, Mr. Bergstrom believes real-estate development near the Green Bay Packers’ football stadium could help keep the good times rolling locally.

Mr. Bergstrom emphasized the role the pump price plays in the industry’s boom. “People underestimate the importance…the price of gasoline is huge.” He estimated Wisconsinites have an extra $250 to spend each month from cheaper gasoline.

The Arlington plant, meanwhile, can barely keep up with demand even after adding a third shift and 1,500 employees over the past three years. Plant manager Juan Carlos Jimenez said GM was so eager to start construction on upgrades that it hid equipment behind AT&T Stadium before an official announcement this summer.

Mayor Jeff Williams said a current project to extend toll lanes for Texas State Road 360 south to U.S. Route 287 is largely because many GM workers make their homes Mansfield, a southern suburb.

Bruce Payne, Arlington’s economic development manager, said home buyers are having to bid more than asking price to snag even the older homes surrounding the plant. “That wasn’t the case during the recession,” he said.

That demand for housing has helped fuel a number of new projects, including a five-story, mixed-used development next door to City Hall on the site of the old library, and a sprawling housing development north of the city.

The booming local economy has also put a premium on commercial space; Arlington has 39 million square feet of industrial space, but less than 4% is vacant. Similarly, Mr. Payne said there is roughly 23 million square feet of retail space, but less than 5% is vacant.

“I just say we’re full, and I lobby with our city council and others that we need more space,” Mr. Payne said. “The engine is running about as hard as it will run with us.”

Super Taikyu Fuji – Race day

Well, it was a high followed by a low.
The race got to a good start with Maejima-san as start driver with plans to switch after either one or two stints for me to finish off the race.
We were 3rd on the grid and after a short drop to 4th place, Maejima-san climbed to 2nd with about 2.0 seconds gap to the #113 Karura Ings Z. But Maejima-san reported cramps in his legs with about 15 laps to go in the first stint. The heat was tremendous during the race and even though the car was equipped with a cooler full of ice and water that gets pumped through the underwear coolsuits and a motorized drink cooler, I imagine it would have been difficult to maintain focus for over an hour. Maejima-san ended up pitting 8 laps early. We topped the car off with fuel and just changed the rear tires. But on my out lap, two Class-2 cars had a major collision at the exit of the final corner to the right and I immediately knew it would cause a full course yellow. And as our luck would have it, the pace car came right out.

The pace car continued to let the cars by until it caught on to the race leader – Class-1 BMW Z4, so I was able to make up a lap, but it still put us one lap behind the class leader. The course went green again on lap 42 and I carefully began going through traffic. The tires got back to temperature and all seemed going well. On the next lap however, we had a race-ending event.

I was passing the #43 BMW M3 into the brake zone of turn 1, as I began making my move, the #43 blocked by veering to the right with some traffic up ahead in the brake zone. I veered further to the right – my brake line did not have any traffic ahead as I was quite a bit on the inside and I knew the #43 BMW would brake early. The H.I.S. Z’s usual brake point is at 150m mark, but the BMW had already gotten on the brakes before the 200m mark and so I followed right around the 200m mark – I knew I was going to make the pass and do it safely into turn 1.

As soon as I got on the brakes however, the ABS engaged and it’s as if the car lost brakes – I didn’t slow anywhere close to making the corner and ended up t-boning another BMW right before the apex of the turn. As soon as I felt the impact I knew the race was over, and the dent on the door of the BMW was also pretty deep.
I quickly veered off course to the left into a safe spot. Front-left side of the car had visible damage, but surprisingly little – I don’t know how but the oil-cooler, which usually goes first and the radiator were just fine.

All the arms on the left front were broken, and the left apron was about 3cm in.

For some time afterwards, I could not comprehend what happened, but the more our team learns of the incident, the more it appears to be an ABS problem – it most likely engaged when it should not have and was so active that it rendered the car nearly brake-less. We’ll see what the conclusion will be.

Looks like our race win is going to be delayed until the next race at Okayama International Circuit at the beginning of September.

Ultracapacitors meet mild hybrids

Valeo and Maxwell Technologies are slated to collaborate on the development of a new stop-start and regenerative-braking system with the emphasis on cost effectiveness. The aim is to create a system using ultracapacitors instead of nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion batteries, achieving very significant cost savings but still achieving much of the benefit of a conventional mild hybrid application.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that involves the incorporation of Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors in Valeo’s next-generation StARS+X system.

The new 14+X architecture StARS (starter-alternator reversible system) comprises a reversible starter-alternator, a multi-cell ultracapacitor energy-storage module, and other power and control electronics in a 14-V architecture. The system is applicable to standard gasoline and diesel engines. Valeo estimates that the system can reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by about 12% in normal operation, and by more than 20% in stop-and-go urban traffic.

Valeo’s first-generation StARS provided start-stop technology but did not include a dedicated energy-storage component. The 14+X architecture incorporates enhanced electronics and an ultracapacitor energy-storage module that allows it to capture and store energy from braking. Recovered energy is then available to power peak electrical loads such as deicing and rapid cabin and seat heating and cooling, avoiding increased fuel consumption for such functions.

“Because its energy storage employs high-efficiency, low-cost, ultracapacitor technology rather than costly nickel metal-hydride or lithium-ion batteries, StARS 14+X can deliver 80% of the benefit of a mild hybrid system at 20% of the cost,” said Daniel Richard, Director, R&D Valeo Electrical Systems. “Tax incentives and free access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes have helped to stimulate demand for current premium-priced hybrid cars as niche products, but we believe that mass adoption of low-emission vehicles and much greater benefits in reduced CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions will be driven by the availability of more cost-effective hybrid architectures.”

Richard said that the flexible 14+X system could be adapted for integration with a wide variety of existing automotive platforms and applied to any new fuel technology, including flex fuel: “It will make time-to-market for new models incorporating it much shorter than more-radical hybrid approaches.”

Valeo and Maxwell Technologies’ MOU also covers terms of a proposed multi-year development and supply agreement through which Valeo will source ultracapacitors from Maxwell.

“This design win is the result of an extensive collaborative development effort, and it reflects the progress Maxwell has made in developing and manufacturing products that meet the very demanding performance requirements of the auto industry,” said David Schramm, Maxwell’s President and CEO.

Auto sector saw M&A deals worth $29.4 billion in 2010 PwC

The automotive sector witnessed mergers and acquisitions worth $29.4 billion last year, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for 11 billion of the total value, says global consultancy firm PwC.

The overall transaction value is much less than the $39.4 billion witnessed in 2009 and the count of deals also fell to 521 last year from 532 in 2009.

The report said the automotive industry across the globe will see a high level of deal activity in the year 2011.

Automotive merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in 2010 was driven by strategic buyers focused on strengthening business units following the global financial crisis.

“Automotive companies are investing in strategic deals aimed at broadening their geographic footprint and/or strengthening their technology portfolio, enhancing their ability to compete globally,” PwC US Automotive Transaction Services Leader Paul Elie said.

Compared to overall global trends, both Asia and Europe observed significant increases in deal activity and the value.

In 2010, Asia’s disclosed deal value more than quadrupled from 2009 levels to $11 billion due to a few large vehicle manufacturer transactions.

The report did not provide any specific data on India. The European automotive industry was also very active in the deal market, accounting for 46 per cent of global automotive M&A activity by volume and 41 per cent by value.

“Auto-makers and suppliers are focused on localising and expanding operations, particularly in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, China and India) markets, to establish a global footprint and increase local content.”

“At the same time, well-managed suppliers are actively screening M&A opportunities to drive segment consolidation or increase their technology portfolio and capabilities,” PwC’s European Automotive Leader, Felix Kuhnert, said.

Going forward, the report said the trend appears to show that M&A activity will continue to increase not just for 2011, but at least for the next few years.

Government extends NATRIP project timeline by 3 years

The government today extended the timeline for completing the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infra Project (NATRIP) by three years.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister, has approved extension of the date of completion of the present timeline by three years that is from 31st December 2014 to 31st December 2017 of the NATRIP),” an official statement said.

The extension of timeline will help the project to be completed as per the objectives and will ensure that state of the art automotive testing, homologation and R&D facilities are made available in India, it said.

NATRIP which plans creation of facilities at seven locations such as Ahmednagar, Silchar, Raebareli, Pune, Manesar, Chennai and Indore had faced hurdles at various stages of implementation on account of delays in acquisition of land, clearances and shifting of utilities besides, contractual complications and foreign exchange variation.

The statement said the project envisages setting up of full-fledged testing and homologation centres within the northern hub of automotive industry at Manesar in Haryana and southern hub of automotive industry at a location near Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

The statement said besides this, the project aims at upgradation of existing testing and homologation facilities at Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Pune and at Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE), Ahmednagar.

Besides a world-class proving grounds or testing tracks on around 4,000 acres of land, including summer and winter pads are planned, the locations of which would be decided with technical assistance from a reputed global consultant to be appointed on the basis of global tendering process.

The statement said it also envisages setting up of “National Center for Testing of Tractors and Off-Road Vehicles together with national facility for accident data analysis and specialized driving training in northern part of the country at Rae Bareilly in the State of Uttar Pradesh” and National Specialized Hill Area Driving Training Center as also Regional In-Use vehicle management Center at Dholchora (Silchar) in Assam.

Will temporary workers in automotive industry be a permanent problem

In the fifteen months that have gone by since a Maruti Suzuki HR manager was killed in labour unrest at its Manesar plant, at least three other auto companies have been crippled by strikes by workers.

A demand for better terms for temporary workers, comparable to permanent employees, has been a contentious issue common to most of these disputes.

Auto companies hire temporary workers when demand picks up and release them when sales slump, thus saving labour costs.

On an average, about 40% of the industry’s workforce is temporary, up from 30% a few years ago. Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki, for instance, have together laid-off almost 4,000 temporary workers recently.

Even as the industry calibrates its temporary workforce in tune with consumer demand, worker angst is also increasing. So is there a win-win solution that can avoid ugly conflicts between companies and their workforce? Companies are trying to find one.

Maruti has discarded the practice of having “third-party contractors” hire and manage such workers. “We are moving to companyowned temporary workers—the tried-andtested people—who are being built as a talent pipeline,” says SY Siddiqui, chief operating officer (human resources and administration), Maruti. He is also quick to add that these temporary workers will be relieved in a downturn.

Others, including Bajaj Auto and Mahindra, are trying to limit hiring of temporary workers only for non-core functions. “We need them for non-core activities like logistics and canteen, which expand as production grows,” says Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto.

Maruti is also moving towards using permanent workers in critical manufacturing lines and using contract workers for nonvalue added functions such as loading, unloading, etc. Adds Prabir Jha, senior VP & chief HR officer, Tata Motors: “We see the quantum (percentage) of flexible workforce declining in the near term. We are not in a position to predict the exact numbers, but clearly it will be aligned to the demands of the business.”

“In core jobs, the percentage of temporary workers is expected to come down, but contract labour is here to stay,” says Rajeev Dubey, president, human resource, M&M. “Therefore, there is a need to focus on making contract labour more productive through skilling, higher engagement and innovation, while ensuring fair wages, decent working conditions, etc, for them.” In M&M, contract workers in core jobs is next to zero, he says.

A New Contract?

Workers contend that this is not the case in many parts of the industry. “Companies employ diploma holders to work on production line (on par with permanent workers) as trainees and pay them as low as Rs 8,000 odd per month and lay them off in a year,” says S Damle, secretary, AITUC, Maharashtra State Council.

A permanent employee, working on the same assembly line, could earn Rs 14,000 to 22,000 a month. “Increasing reliance on contract labour to get routine jobs done cheaper, denying benefits like gratuity and provident fund, is causing the recent increase in labour strife,” says a senior labour ministry official, not wanting to be named.

But, governments in country after country, a senior International Labour Organisation official based outside India told ET, are often the main perpetrators of unequal working conditions for temporary workers. Last year, India backed an ILO recommendation to provide a nationally determined social security floor for all workers.

Sometime ago, a proposed amendment to labour laws sought to ensure that contract workers receive the same wages and benefits as regular employees, even if they don’t have security of tenure. But, the government is dithering and unwilling to commit itself fully on this issue.

“The change in law would have allowed companies to hire contract workers, but forced companies to pay them wages and working conditions that are equal to the regular workers,” a former additional secretary in the ministry told ET. But the necessary amendments are yet to see the light of the day, he conceded.

Since 2009, the government has been tossing around the proposal to change the 1971 Contract Labour law to give workers a fairer deal. But a study commissioned by the government— contract workers make up 70% of the staff of some public sector firms—discovered that the incremental costs for government would be Rs 11,000 crore a year, as opposed to just Rs 5,500 crore for India Inc’s contract workers.

It is in the government’s own interest to put the amendments in deep freeze, a senior official explained. Sure enough, a committee of secretaries, headed by cabinet secretary Ajit Seth, has failed to reach a consensus and is unlikely to arrive at one anytime soon, officials admit.

Globally, there are clear guidelines on compensating contract workers. Bajaj Auto has first-hand experience in countries ranging from Austria to Indonesia, which permit downsizing labour with proper compensation. “If such a policy is effective in a developing democracy like Indonesia, why is this considered politically imprudent in India?” he asks. “Such an evolution of the labour law would put an end to this issue overnight. It will enable the competitiveness of companies, while simultaneously ensuring the welfare of individuals.”

Tata Motors’ board to decide on new managing director in few days

Tata Motors’ board is expected to appoint the new managing director in a few days time following the demise of of Karl Slym, who died on Sunday after falling from the 22nd floor of a five-star hotel in Bangkok. “We will issue a statement once the board takes a decision in the next few days,” a company spokesperson said when asked who would carry out the responsibilities of the managing director.

According to reports, Slym, 51, died after falling from a high floor of the hotel in Yannawa district, Bangkok. He had gone to attend a board meeting of the company’s Thailand arm.

He had joined Tata Motors as the managing director in 2012 and led the company’s operations in India and global markets, excluding Jaguar and Land Rover business.

Condoling his demise, Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said, the untimely death is not only a loss to the Tatas but to the entire Indian automotive industry.

Slym strongly believed that the revival of the automotive industry at this critical juncture essentially requires synergistic efforts by all stakeholders, Rawat added.

Slym was also the first chairperson of the Assocham Automotive Council.

In a separate statement, Harish Lakshman, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) President, said: “It is indeed very unfortunate that the automotive industry has lost a distinguished leader. His loss comes at a juncture when the industry needed him the most.”

Automotive industry unit in Tihar to be run by inmates

For the first time in the history of Indian automotive industry, a manufacturing unit has been set up inside a jail premises where work will be carried out by prison inmates.

The Director General of Delhi prisons, Alok Verma, today inaugurated the small scale automotive workshop in Jail number 2 of Tihar here, under a public-private partnership providing training and employment opportunities for the inmates.

The manufacturing unit has been set up by Minda Furukawa Electric Pvt. Ltd (MFE), a joint venture company between Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group of India and Furukawa of Japan.

The company develops and produces the entire range of wiring harness for four wheelers, and components related to wiring harness.

“The inmates will profit in both long term and short term working here. They will be paid wages and will gain work experience which will be useful for them to rehabilitate themselves after completing their terms here,” Delhi prisons DIG and PRO Mukesh Prasad said.

The inmates working here will be supervised by professionals and will earn more wages in comparison to other inmates working in the jail.

“We are hopeful of making the inmates able to earn their living once they are out of jail by gaining technical experience,” Prasad said.

The venture was inaugurated in the presence of Delhi prisons DG, DIG, Chairperson of Spark Munda, Sarika Minda, President of MFE, A Maenishi and other senior officials.

Chief Marketing Officer of the Spark Minda Group said, “This initiative will certainly produce a sustainable collaborative social business model, which will benefit the convicts of Tihar Jail, their families and victims also.

“We are certainly exploring such avenues at other places also… The investments at Tihar includes machinery, raw material and other quality systems and procedures as laid down per policy and the facility will be run by jail convicts under the supervision of MFE.

“In this manufacturing unit, Wire Harness product, a key automotive component, will be manufactured by the Jail convicts,” he said. Initially 30 to 35 inmates are working on this joint project which is likely to be increased in future, Prasad said.

Budget 2015 Don’t see across-the-board excise duty cut, says M&M’s Pawan Goenka

The last one-and-a-half years have been a challenging time for the automotive industry. Some players have done well, but almost everybody in the industry has faced challenges during the period. There are a variety of factors that we have talked about in the past. So I would not repeat them.

I am beginning to see some signs of a turnaround. However, looking at the latest numbers, it is very hard to say that the industry has turned around. But there is some amount of optimism for sure. Some people may still think that our sales have not been growing, and they would be true.

But the fact is that as we look forward to the next year, as we look at the policies of the government and at what might happen to the economy, it certainly gives us the optimism that next year would be a year of a comeback to winning ways for the industry.

There still will be some winners and some losers. It’s inevitable in an industry that has almost 18-20 players now. But overall for the industry, next year will be a turnaround year. It depends on several factors, all of which at the moment appear positive — economic growth, interest rates coming down, commodity prices being subdued, thrust on ‘Make in India’ and the like.

These policies will help the automotive industry. It will also be aided by GST being put in place, income levels growing leading a rise in affordability. If you add these all up, there is no reason why the automotive industry should not come back to winning ways.

ET Now: You must have planned a slew of launches for the next financial year as well. Can you give us some idea?

Pawan Goenka: The last couple of years have been slow for Mahindra in terms of new launches. But we have been preparing for several launches in the next financial year. We have lined up at least nine launches. There are going to be three new plaforms — P601, S101 and U301.

There will be three major refreshes of our existing products. We will launch three new variants as well. You will see all these coming in the next 12 months. Each of these launches would mean a lot to us in terms of increasing our volume and our market share.

ET Now: How has been February for you so far? Unlike what happens typically, this time you may not have seen that pent-up demand. So, is it going to be low in terms of sales for you?

Pawan Goenka: It is very difficult to know these things for sure seven days before the month is over. It’s because bulk of the sale happens in the last five-six days. So, I would not know right now.

In February so far, there has not been a significant change from what we saw in January. Still, it is tough to guess the final numbers.

Pawan Goenka: As far as the auto sector is concerned, I do not see anything major coming. The industry, of course, always hopes for excise duty reductions. But I do not think that there will be any across-the-board reduction in excise duty in this budget. We might see some rationalisation in certain segments of the industry where there are some anomalies. Some very high duties might get corrected, but I do not see overall reduction.

In this budget, I see some incentive for electric vehicles. There have been several reports which say that the government is setting aside a fairly good amount for incentivising electric vehicles. So, we may see something to that extent.

More important is what will be the overall direction that we will see in the budget. The single most important announcement that will cheer the industry will be GST. If there is an announcement of a specific date for launch of GST, that would certainly be a great thing for us. April 1, 2016 will be very nice.

The other thing that we would be watching for are definite signals on ‘Make in India’. It is a very important policy — something that Prime Minister Modi has been very aggressively talking about.

We would like to see something which says the government is very serious about this. It basically talks about doing business in India. It is about removing some of the roadblocks that we have in growing manufacturing. That will be very important announcement for us.

In addition to that, we would like to see positive announcements on infrastructure, and about the mining sector opening up. All of these things will lead to economic development which in turn will certainly help the auto industry.

Another thing that has been a bit of a concern lately is the rural economy. It has been struggling partly because of agriculture output being low. We do hope that in the coming budget, there will be an attempt to revive the rural economy.

Uno Minda considering acquisition in Europe, to invest Rs 700-800 crore in capacity expansion

The Uno Minda Group plans to invest Rs 700-800 crore over the next three years and is working on an acquisition worth Rs 200 crore in Europe, as the component manufacturer expands capacity to cash in on a turnaround in the automotive market.

“We cannot divulge details of the acquisition right now,” Chairman and Managing Director NK Minda said. “This is a European company which manufactures product in our existing product line and we hope to conclude this deal in November-December.”

The group that makes products ranging from automotive batteries and two-wheeler switches to seat belts and alloy wheels expects its revenue to double over the next three years from a projected Rs 4,000 crore this fiscal year through March 2015. Last year, it posted a turnover of Rs 3,150 crore. Minda Industries is the only listed company in the group.

“We are going to grow now. Infrastructure has been lagging behind and the automotive industry is directly connected with this. Now both seem to be coming on track, therefore the industry has to grow,” Minda said.

The Gurgaon-based group’s capacity expansion plans come at a time when the automotive sector is witnessing a pickup in demand after two years to falling sales. Parts makers are cranking up idled capacity, and industry executives say they have started hiring and are considering expansion to meet rising demand from vehicle manufactures.

Minda said the group is looking at products which it can launch soon. It has a dozen joint-venture partners and there are products “our collaborators have not introduced in India as of now”, he added.

It is planning to manufacture control systems for automated manual transmission (AMT) – a clutch-less technology that promises to combine the high mileage of manual transmission with the convenience of automatic cars. Maruti Suzuki’s Celerio hatchback was the first to spot this transmission system in India. Tata Motors has recently introduced AMT in its Tata Zest compact sedan, while Mahindra & Mahindra is planning to offer it in its compact utility vehicle Quanto.

Uno Minda will get the AMT control system technology from JV partner Tokai Rika, which makes them in Japan. “We are studying the opportunity in AMT. We were slow in investing because of the slowdown in the past two years, but now we will invest,” Minda said.

The company is doing a feasibility study to start a plant for alloy wheels at Bawal in Haryana or Gujarat. It has land available at both places.

It currently manufactures alloy wheels in Chennai and supplies to Maruti as well as the local units of Nissan, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor. That plant can produce 60,000 units a month and the capacity is fully utilised. It is considering a new plant because of rising demand for alloy wheels.

Uno Minda is also setting up a plant in Gujarat for filters with an investment of around Rs 60 crore, excluding land. Construction is ongoing and manufacturing is expected to start by mid-next year. From this plant, Minda will supply to Honda’s two-wheelers.

Tata Motors hires former Airbus COO Gunter Butschek as CEO of India operations

Tata Motors has hired former Airbus Chief Operating Officer Gunter Butschek as its managing director and chief executive of local operations, filling up positions left vacant after the death of Karl Slym in January 2014.

The 55-year-old German will take charge at Tata Motors on February 15, the nation’s top automobile manufacturer by revenue said in a filing with stock exchanges. He will be responsible for only the Indian operations, with the company’s London-based Jaguar Land Rover unit continuing to be managed by CEO Ralf Speth.

Butschek, who resigned from Airbus in December 2014, has had a series of negotiations with Tata Motors over the past year or so, people in the know said. He spent almost four years at Airbus out of which about two and half years as the aircraft maker’s chief operating officer.

He has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry, all at Stuttgart based luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz.

The appointment of Butschek happens at a time when the domestic operations of Tata Motors are gradually turning a corner. While it is losing market share on the commercial vehicle front, the company has grown its medium and heavy truck volumes by 22%. In the passenger vehicle space, Tata Motors has posted cumulative growth of 5% lower than the industry growth of 9% April-December 2015, which though is a much better performance when compared with the past few years.

With more than Rs 3,500 crore to Rs 4,000 crore of investment planned per annum, the product pipeline is well in place for the company to attempt a turnaround in operations.

Union Budget 2011 is in line with expectations for automotive industry, says Karl Slym, President & Managing Director, General Motors India

The budget is encouraging due to its focus on agriculture, irrigation, education, skill development, health care, infrastructure and other social schemes. Since it addresses many of the concerns of the industry in general, it should help fuel demand and economic growth going forward.

As far as the automotive industry is concerned, the budget is on the expected lines. The Government’s intention to reach consensus with state governments and introduce GST bill in the current session of the parliament, introduction of DTC by April 1, 2012, setting up of National Mission for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles are welcome decisions.

Some of the other announcements made by the finance minister for manufacturing and R&D activities should enhance the competitiveness of Indian industry. The intention to further promote the development of infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, is a positive step.

The government’s commitment to continue with its reform process is likewise positive. These proposals, if implemented effectively, should have a positive impact on industry and the economy as a whole. The challenge now is the implementation of the proposals. Our hope is that the market will respond favorably.

Expect positive growth in automotive industry from November K Srinivas

The automobile industry is expected to see a positive growth from November due to factors like good monsoon, Bajaj Auto President (Motorcycle Business) K Srinivas today said.

“We have had a very good monsoon. The prices of the crops are also very high. I guess from November onwards, the industry will see a positive growth,” he told reporters at the launch of the company’s new bike Discover 100 M here.

Srinivas said Bajaj has been the market leader in Bangalore for the last two years and expects the new bike to help the company become a leading player in Karnataka in few months. “That is why this bike is really important for us.”

The Pune-based company said the bike can deliver a fuel economy of 84 km per litre and is priced at Rs 45,996 (ex-showroom, Bangalore).

The new bike has not compromised on power to achieve high mileage, Srinivas said.

“Thanks to our patented twin-spark, 4-Valve engines, we are able to power up the mileage in the bikes. The Discover 100 M gives 9.3 PS power and yet delivers 84 km to a litre,” he said.

German, Indian automotive industries agree to cooperate

German and Indian automotive industries expanded their cooperation horizon, determining 18 joint-project goals including developing technologies and raising proportion of renewable fuels.

High-level German and Indian industry representatives met at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) held during Sep 13-23 and signed a bilateral agenda.

Matthias Wissmann, president of the German Association of Automotive Industry (VDA), said the two automotive markets cannot do without each other any longer.

Addressing 300 participants at the IAA India Day, Wissmann said that the range of cooperation included expansion of infrastructure, harmonising automotive regulations and clean diesel technology.

India’s Minister for Heavy Industries Santosh Mohan Dev described the country’s automotive industry as the new sunrise of Indian industrial development with more people in a position to afford personal mobility.

Automotive industry seeks tax holidays

The Indian automotive industry has sought tax holidays for investments exceeding Rs 500 crore in line with the ones enjoyed by large infrastructure projects even as the government said it would revamp some of the existing export promotion schemes.”In order to spur further growth, the industry has requested that the automotive industry may be brought under the purview of the existing incentive structure, which exist for other sectors of the economy,” the industry said in the Draft Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) 2006-16 released by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) here.The AMP was handed over by the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Santosh Mohan Dev to the industry for further debate.Other incentives sought by the industry include tax deductions of 100 per cent of export profits, one stop clearances for FDI proposals in automotive sector, deduction of 30 per cent of net income for 10 years for new industrial undertakings.The industry has also asked for concession on import duty on machinery for setting up of new plant or capacity expansion and deduction of 50 per cent on foreign exchange earnings of automotive companies.Speaking on the occasion, the minister said, “The government would play a key role in facilitating infrastructure creation, promote country’s capability, create favourable business climate, attract investments and facilitate R&D.”

Dreams of autumn

It’s August and you may be feeling the lethargy of summer days, but it’s time to get busy planning for October in Germany, where the 17th Annual VISION Show will take place in Stuttgart, from October 19 to 21. The Messe Stuttgart organizers are expecting about 200 exhibitors this year—up from 178 in 2003—occupying around 13,000 m2 of floor space. Three-fifths will be component manufacturers, while the rest will offer complete solutions for machine vision. Approximately 4800 visitors are expected to attend the show, which is one of the industry’s top product showcases and networking events.

At a June press briefing in Stuttgart, the state of the machine-vision industry in Germany was described in robust terms by Volker Pape, who chairs the management board of the Machine Vision Group in the VDMA—The German Engineering Federation (Frankfurt, Germany; www.vdma.org). Based on a survey of 54 companies, Pape said the German market rose 15% in 2003 to †830 million, and he expects a 10% growth in 2004. More and more German companies are becoming global, or at least pan-European, players. Exports accounted for 38% of overall turnover in 2003, with customers equally distributed between North America and Asia. Interestingly, German machine-vision companies are purchasing more components from within their own border—up to 40% in 2003 from 28% in 2002. Imports from North America declined from 29% in 2002 to 19% in 2003.

According to Pape, the major application of machine vision in Germany continues to be quality assurance; however, production automation grew significantly, as did material flow control and machine control. Of note, nonindustrial applications are seeing very strong growth, particularly for safety, traffic control, and medicine, and constituted almost 30% of turnover for machine-vision products in 2003. The automobile industry and its suppliers continue to be the largest user sector, with 23% of the market in 2003. Transportation and traffic applications are now the second most frequent end use. And, although it constituted only 1% of the market, the wood-processing and furniture-making industry doubled in size from 2002.

Future visions

The VISION Show itself will be growing in size when construction of its new venue is finished in 2007. Messe Stuttgart is building a 100,000-m2 trade-fair center adjacent to the airport. The organization now runs about 40 trade fairs and exhibitions each year, and this new, much larger facility should make it an even more competitive location in Germany, since it will have direct motorway, commuter rail, and national train links.

Beyond the lures of technology and business, Stuttgart is a great city to enjoy for its beauty, culture, and food. Personally, I like the Neue Staatsgalerie, which is a postmodern art museum on the Schlossgarten park. If you like non-machine-vision images that capture the real essence of things, there’s an entrancing painting by

Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901-1966) of his wife, Annette, that I recommend.