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BW Businessworld

Volkswagen Keen To Establish R&D Centre In India

The move will help Volkswagen group to make cars in India at very competitive prices

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In its bid to reboot its operations in the world’s second-fastest growing automotive market, Volkswagen (VW) India is drawing a blueprint to build an R&D Centre in the country that will be actively working on products meant for the local market.  Even though the location and other details are not yet finalised, it is believed (though not confirmed) that the German car major may consider Bangalore or Pune or even Chennai for setting up a design and product development centre in the country. Speculation is also pretty rife that the facility will be working on cars which are positioned below the Polo.  The Wolfsburg- based firm is running five such centres globally i.e. in Wolfsburg, Sao Paolo, Mexico, Shanghai and Changchun.

Michael Lendle, Head- Product Planning, VW India, told BW Businessworld recently, “Setting up an R&D centre for developing India-specific cars could be an option going forward. It would be a stepwise process and we are thinking on those lines. We may not come out with Up! but a car below the Polo has a huge potential for the Indian market.”

It is to be mentioned that even though the Ameo compact saloon was conceived at its principle R&D Centre in Wolfsburg, the Technical Department in India also contributed significantly to its development. All the local needs and wants from Indian customers were closely studied and implemented in the Ameo from VW India's technical department

Puneet Gupta, Associate director, automotive forecasting, IHS Markit revealed, “India has frugal engineering skills which a player like Volkswagen can exploit not only for cars they are selling in India but globally also. The move will help Volkswagen group to make cars in India at very competitive prices."

It may be recalled that the country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki has earmarked over Rs 3,800 crore (more than 50 per cent already deployed) on its full-fledged R&D centre in Rohtak that will be operational by March 2019. The centre, which already in-house testing and crash units, will be focusing on design and development of global compact cars. Its closest competitor Hyundai is running a similar centre in Hyderabad, which has contributed to the development of South Korean major’s Eon, ‘I’ series models and SUV Creta. The Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India, a 50:50 joint venture between the French and Japanese automobile alliance partners inked a decade back, worked on the development of Kwid and Redi-Go for domestic and overseas markets.  Mercedes Benz also runs a captive unit to support the parent company’s research, information technology and product development activities.

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