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India turns net steel exporter

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India turned into a net steel exporter in FY13-14, after a gap of six years. The momentum is expected to continue through FY14-15 as producers of steel look at exports to tide over the dull domestic environment. Total steel exports by India during FY13-14 were 5.59 million metric-tonne, as against imports of 5.44 metric-tonne. Fourth largest steel producer, India was a net steel importer since 2007-08 and the trend continued till 2012-13 with 7.9 metric-tonnes of imports, and 5.2 metric-tonnes of exports. Before the FY2007-08, India exported more steel than its imported steel. A rise in exports by 4.1 per cent approximately, and a decline in imports by 31.3 per cent has turned India into a net steel exporter. If higher exports were driven by volatility of rupee and mismatched demand-supply situation in the country, decline in import could be attributed to the sluggish domestic economy, and lower consumption therefore. India’s steel consumption grew by just 0.6 per cent in FY2013-14, its lowest in four years, at 73.93 metric-tonne. Construction sector accounts for around 60 per cent of the country’s total steel demand while the automobile industry consumes 15 per cent. Both sectors were hit by a slowdown in the economy. Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) clocked a 30 per cent growth in exports in FY2013-14. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) exported 1 lakh tonne steel last fiscal. SAIL aims to more than double the shipments to 1 MT in 2014-15. RINL aims to treble exports in the current fiscal. 

India tour of igus Smart car comes to an end

Igus Smart car200.jpgTo mark the 50th anniversary as well as the 30th anniversary of its ‘iglidur’ polymer bearings, Igus took a Smart car, replaced the bearings with iglidur polymer bearings, and sent it on a world tour. The tour had the car travelling to India. Apart from making its presence felt at the 2014 Auto Expo, the small, retrofitted car, featuring 56 igus polymer bearing components, embarked on a journey through India on January 10, 2014, at Delhi. Passing through 14 cities of the India (Agra, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai among other), the car made it successfully to Bangalore on February 26, 2014. Covering a distance of 4619 km, and visiting 61 major manufacturing companies across India, the igus Smart embarked on a travel to another destination. It may have gone, but its memory lingers. For every kilometre the car travelled in India, igus India contributed RS 100 and igus GMBH contributed Euro 1. A sum of Rs 8,54,515 was donated to M.A.D (Make A Difference), which would help sponsoring the education of 854 kids in India. Currently touring China, the igus Smart car will visit America and Europe, covering more than 20 countries across the globe and returning back to celebrate the 50th anniversary of igus in Cologne, Germany.

Hero MotoCorp enters Bangladesh

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Hero MotoCorp has entered the Bangladesh market by inking a joint venture with Nitol Niloy Group to locally manufacture two-wheelers. The joint venture company, in which Hero will hold a 55 per cent stake, will erect a manufacturing facility to locally manufacture two-wheelers. First overseas joint venture to set up a two wheeler manufacturing plant outside of India, since Hero MotoCorp commenced its solo journey three years ago, after ending its long standing association with Honda Motor Company, Hero’s wholly-owned subsidiary HMCL Netherlands BV will hold the majority stake of 55 per cent in the new JV to be precise. There will be a total equity injection of US $ 12.6 million in a ratio of 55:45 over a period of two years. The new venture will have a CAPEX of US $ 23.2 million in the first year of its operation (FY 2014-15) and a total investment of US $40 million over the next five years. The debut of Hero in Bangladesh is driven by 11 two-wheeler models including HF, Splendor, Passion, Glamour, Xtreme, Hunk and Pleasure. Backed by a five-year warranty, the models will be initially marketed through 50 outlets.
Hero two-wheelers already sell in as many as 18 countries including Peru and Ecuador in South America; Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador in Central America; Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa; Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Congo and Angola in West Africa and most recently, Turkey and Egypt. The company has also established its international assembly units in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa through its distributors. The company sold a record 6.25 million two-wheelers in the Financial Year 2013-14.

Datsun GO launched in India

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Datsun has launched the GO small car in India with prices starting at Rs 3.12 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. Making India the first market to witness the re-emergence of Datsun brand, albeit with a different outlook, the GO compares well with the likes of Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, and comprises three trim levels. Powering the car is a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine said to have been borrowed from the Nissan Micra. Sharing certain other components and bits with the Micra, the GO is capable of seating five people, and is a five-door design with some clever packaging initiatives like a joint front seat and gear shifter that is placed on the centre console. In terms of equipment, the car features digital tacho; drive computer that displays instantaneous fuel economy, average fuel economy and distance to empty, etc.

Five years of German engineering at Pune by Volkswagen

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The Volkswagen plant at Pune turned five on 31st March 2014. A fine example of German Engineering in India, the plant at Chakan near Pune, is spread over 575 acres. Built with an initial investment of Rs 3,800 crore, the plant has rolled out more than 367,000 cars and employs 3,400 people. Built in a short time of 17 months, the Chakan plant covers the entire automotive production process – from press shop through body shop and paint shop to assembly. Futuristic technologies like diode laser welding and in-line measurement processes highlight Volkswagen India’s emphasis on include German Production Technology and German standards of manufacture. Having come to turn out Volkswagen and Skoda brand of cars, the plant has adhered to the rule of producing the highest quality cars without exception.
This has not only helped Volkswagen ensure highest international product quality standard, it has enabled the company to export cars to markets like South Africa. Starting with the export of Vento in 2011, Volkswagen caters to over 32 countries across three continents of Asia, Africa and North America, which include left-hand drive markets like Mexico and AGCC (Arab Gulf Cooperation Council). Also, as part of the export activities, Volkswagen India initiated its Parts & Components Business Unit (PCB Unit) at its Pune Plant, which exports parts and components of Polo and Vento to Malaysia where they are assembled for the Malaysian market. In related news, Michael Mayer has been appointed as Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India. He will take charge on June 1, 2014. Currently responsible for market planning of Volkswagen Passenger Cars European Sales Division located in Wolfsburg, Germany, Mayer has been with the Volkswagen Group for over twenty years. He worked on a number of factory planning projects with assignments in China and Portugal. In his new role, Mayer will be reporting to Thierry Lespiaucq, Managing Director, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited.

Volvo to introduce UD buses in India

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Volvo has announced that it will introduce UD buses in India. To expand Volvo Group’s client base and improve competitiveness by targeting the middle segment, the UD bus range will be developed by leveraging the Volvo Group’s global engineering network in combination with its heritage of Japanese craftsmanship and reliability. The new bus range will be supported by the Volvo Group’s distribution network, providing service and parts. UD buses will offer passengers a modern transport solution while at the same time focusing on operational essentials like fuel efficiency, reliability and optimised up time. The production of UD buses will start in Bangalore soon with the early units being delivered to customers later this year. Besides serving the domestic Indian market, the UD bus plant in India will also serve as an export hub in the future.

Hyundai launches Xcent

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Hyundai Motor India has launched its compact ‘entry-level’ sedan Xcent. Displayed at the Auto Expo 2014, the Xcent is based on the Grand i10 platform, and measures under 4m in length. Aimed at the liked of Maruti Suzuki Dzire and Honda Amaze, the Xcent shares its appearance with the Grand i10, the change being a three-box form compared to the two-box form of the Grand i10. Developed in close co-operation between Hyundai Motor India engineers and Hyundai engineers at the Namyang R&D at Korea, the Xcent looks similar to the Grand i10 as far as the interior goes. Featuring a climate control, which is a segment first, apart from features like ABS, airbags, push button start, rear parking camera, auto folding mirrors, electric trunk lid opening, cluster ionizer, rear AC vents, and parking assist, the Xcent is powered by a 83PS, 1.2-litre petrol engine with a choice of 5-speed manual transmission, or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The other engine on offer is a 72PS, 1.1-litre diesel engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. Prices of the car range between Rs 4.66 lakh and Rs 7.19 lakh ex-showroon Delhi.

BharatBenz Truck Sales Cross the 10,000 Mark
Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Pvt Ltd (DICV) has announced that it has crossed the 10,000th truck sales mark. The company also, for the first time in its history, sold 1,000 units in a month of March 2014. Sale of BharatBenz trucks grew over 67 per cent in the 1st quarter of 2014 (2,203 units) as compared to the same period in 2013 (1,316 units) with a significant market share of 5.3 per cent in addressable markets above 9-tonne segment, while the overall truck market of less than 9-tonne decreased by another 22 per cent in the same period, clearly indicating that BharatBenz is steadily becoming the brand of aspiration for many Indian truckers.

Management changes at Daimler India
Marc Llistosella, MD & CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) will move to Tokyo, Japan. He will become Head – Marketing, Sales & After-sales, Trucks Asia & DICV, effective June 1, 2014. Erich Nesselhauf, Vice-President – Supply Chain Management, DICV, will become MD & CEO of DICV. Apart from Marc, Eric has been involved with the DICV Greenfield project from the beginning. He has been instrumental in building the entire supplier base for DICV. Helping the commercial vehicle manufacturer achieve a local content of 85 per cent, Eric, in his new role, will be in-charge of the entire DICV operations in India. He will to report to Llistosella. Kai-Uwe Seidenfuss, currently MFTBC Senior Vice-President, Sales & After-sales, will become Head – Corporate Audit at Daimler AG, effective June 01, 2014, reporting to Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler AG.

Continental launches radial truck tyres in India


Continental has started the production and distribution of radial truck tyres in the Indian market. With an initial annual production capacity of 220,000 radial truck tyres, a dealer network of more than 1,400 outlets and sales and customer service teams in more than 70 cities across India, Continental has taken the next step in expanding its reach in India after acquiring Indian tyre manufacturer Modi in 2011. “India is the second largest market for truck tyres in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) and we strongly believe that our premium technology products, manufactured locally and distributed through our Indian market organization, will make Continental a preferred partner in the tyre replacement and original equipment business,” said Dr Andreas Esser, Head of the Commercial Vehicle Tires business at Continental.

With Continental’s strategy accounting for investment in a local production facility, the launch of truck radials in India point at the German tier supplier’s move to diversify the global manufacturing footprint and expand business in growing markets such as India. Continental has invested heavily into the construction of a new production building apart from the machinery for making radial tyres. Continental also brought experienced staff from some of its other international production sites to India in an effort to train the local staff on the new machinery and production techniques.

Faurecia appoints Niklas Braun as Executive VP Automotive Exteriors
Faurecia has appointed Niklas Braun as a member of the Group’s Executive Committee, effective from April 2014. The company has also selected Niklas as an Executive Vice President in charge of the Automotive Exteriors business group, which will be effective from June 2014. Niklas was previously a member of the Group Executive Board of REHAU, a privately-owned company, and CEO of REHAU automotive business division, a Tier 1 supplier to all major international automakers. From June, Herv? Guyot, who had occupied the position of Executive Vice President Automotive Exteriors since September 2013, will continue leading the group strategy within the executive committee.

German delegates visit India, interact with auto industry
A delegation from the German state of Thuringia led by Thuringian Minister of Economy, Labour and Technology, Uwe H?hn visited Delhi, Pune and Bangalore on April 22-27, 2014. The delegation had political as well as business representatives. The Indo-German Chamber of Commerce organised B2B meetings for business delegates in an effort to explore opportunities to work together with German companies in India. The schedule for B2B meets at Delhi was April 23. The schedule for B2B meets at Pune was on April 24. The delegates participating into this forum came from various sectors including automotive, industrial machinery and equipment; optical industry, testing and measuring; research and education; and health care and pharma.

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