The small, full-forward mini-pickup has become the visible face of the new Indian auto evolution—just like what the Maruti 800 and Omni vans managed about 20-30 years ago
There have been a lot of big-bang launches lately from the likes of Chevrolet and Ford. But what many might have missed is the rather low-key launch of the small goods- & people-carrier from Hinduja Ashok Leyland. Named the 'Dost', this lands up straight in Tata Ace territory, but with a bigger engine, bigger cabin, bigger tyres and bigger payload. The on-road cost, however, is close to that of the Tata Ace. And the man behind it, Dr V Sumantran, was there at Tata Motors for the Ace too. As Moneylife readers will know, this is a very interesting segment.
With the changing landscape in the non-Metro areas, this small all-products and passenger-carrier category, becomes an even more interesting upcountry vehicle. Take a drive anywhere in India and you will see how, from nowhere, the small full-forward cab kind of mini-pickup has become the visible face of automobile evolution in India-just like the Maruti 800 and Omni vans did about 20-30 years ago. Only, this lot, the Tata Ace, Hinduja AL Dost and similar vehicles, run on diesel and can lug a lot more. And retain resale value quite well, too.
Volvo trucks, which have an interesting joint venture with Eicher Motors for larger engines, are doing the same in India. After a decade and a bit more of a sort of monopoly in the luxury bus and high-powered trucks business, they are suddenly in the line of competition in this segment from India and abroad with Mercedes-Benz, MAN, Tata Daewoo Commercial, Hinduja Ashok Leyland—and that home-grown dark-horse, Asia Motor Works from Bhuj.
In a recent initiative, Volvo Eicher has tied up with specific engineering colleges in Mohali/Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Mysore to train young people in specific automobile fields. This is social responsibility with a vision and it is hoped that other manufacturers also do something similar soon, instead of constantly complaining about the lack of trained manpower.
"Ford will invest approximately Rs4,000 crore (nearly $1 billion) in the two facilities, including stamping, body, paint and assembly operations for vehicle manufacturing, as well as machining and assembly operations for engine manufacturing," the company said in a statement
Ahmedabad: US car-maker Ford today said it will invest Rs4,000 crore to set up its second manufacturing facility in India with an initial installed capacity of 2.4 lakh units annually, reports PTI.
The company, which is present in the country through wholly-owned subsidiary Ford India, will set up the facility in a 460-acre location at Sanand, in Gujarat.
The facility will also house an engine plant having an installed capacity of 2.7 lakh units annually. The proposed investment is likely to create 5,000 jobs in the state.
"Ford will invest approximately Rs4,000 crore (approximately $1 billion) in the two facilities, which include stamping, body, paint and assembly operations for vehicle manufacturing, as well as machining and assembly operations for engine manufacturing," Ford India said in a statement.
The vehicle assembly unit and the engine plant will have initial production capacities of 2.4 lakh units and 2.7 lakh units, respectively, it added.
The company will start construction of both plants later this year and the plant is scheduled to be operationalised in 2014, the statement said.
"We are delighted to announce that Ford's newest vehicle manufacturing site will be here in Gujarat.
"Ford has very aggressive expansion plans in India and in Asia Pacific and Africa, and these two new plants will be important in realising our growth strategy here in one of the most dynamic regions in the world," Ford president and CEO (Asia Pacific and Africa) Joe Hinrichs said.
Ford said it selected Gujarat because of the state's pro-business environment, infrastructure, access to ports in north western India and skilled workforce.
With this announcement, Ford's total investment in India will increase to about $2 billion, the company said.
Currently Ford India has its manufacturing and engine facility in Chennai. It employs over 10,000 people in India across its manufacturing, global business services and IT operations.
"This is an investment in the future of Ford globally. These new state-of-the-art facilities will help us reach the goal of increasing worldwide sales by nearly 50% by mid-decade to about 8 million vehicles per year," Mr Hinrichs said.
The US car giant is introducing over 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the Asia Pacific and African region by the middle of this decade as 60%-70% of Ford's growth is expected to come from this region over the next ten years.
The moderation in food inflation is expected to come as a relief for the government and the Reserve Bank of India, who have adopted a series of measures for battling inflationary pressure
New Delhi: Food inflation fell to its lowest level in 20 months at 7.33% for the week ended 16th July on the back of cheaper pulses, even as other items grew more expensive. Food inflation, as measured by Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 7.58% in the previous week, reports PTI.
The decline could also be attributed to the high inflation figure of 18.56% for the corresponding year-ago period, a phenomenon dubbed the ‘high base effect’ in economic parlance.
The latest figure is the lowest since separate data for food inflation was first released in November 2009.
During the week under review, prices of pulses fell by 8% year-on-year. However, prices of other items went up.
Onions became more expensive by 22.66% and fruits became 13.90% dearer on an annual basis.
Potatoes became 10.55% costlier, while milk was up 9.96%. Vegetable prices were up by 7.59% year-on-year.
Overall, primary articles recorded inflation of 10.49% for the week ended 16th July, down from 11.13% in the previous week. Primary articles have a share of over 20% in the WPI.
However, inflation of non-food articles went up to 16.05% from 15.50% in the previous week.
Furthermore, fibres became more expensive by over 28% and oil seeds were up 13.72%. Minerals became dearer by 23.12% year-on-year.
Meanwhile, the index for fuel and power stood at 12.12%.
The moderation in food inflation is expected to come as a relief for the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), who have adopted a series of measures for battling inflationary pressure.
Headline inflation stood at 9.44% in June. The RBI has already hiked interest rates 11 times since March 2010, to tame demand and curb inflation.
In its quarterly review earlier this week, the RBI raised its overall inflation projection for March 2012 to 7% from 6% estimated earlier, “in view of the domestic demand-supply balance, global trends in commodity prices and the likely demand scenario.”