News / Asia

Global Automakers Head to India to Tap into Growing Car Market

Selling inexpensive, compact cars to middle-class Indians helps make up for slumping sales in Western countries

Anjana Pasricha

Several global automakers are heading to India to sell compact cars, as the country turns into one of the world's fastest growing auto markets.  The country is also emerging as a manufacturing hub for small, compact cars.       

Twenty-four-year-old Gaurav Mehta wants to buy a car, but has decided to wait and take his pick from cheap, compact models being introduced to the Indian market this year by companies like Toyota, Honda, and General Motors.  Most of them will cost around $10,000.

"Well with so many cars coming in this price range now, I thought why not wait and look at the other models, also," Mehta said. 

He is among millions of middle-class Indians whom global automakers are eyeing as they target new markets to make up for slumping sales in Western countries.

As India shrugs off the global recession, car sales have been rising quickly.  January's figures were 33 percent higher, compared to the same month last year.

The 1.5 million cars sold in India in 2009 are still far behind China, the world's biggest car market.  But automakers say there is huge potential to be tapped in a country which has about 12 cars per 1,000 people and where a growing economy is propelling larger numbers into the middle class.

Yogendra Pratap, editor of the magazine Auto Bild, says the focus is on inexpensive, small cars which account for four out of every five cars sold in the country.

"All companies have realized that they need to have a good market share in India to survive recessions in the West, and that means that they need to have successful products in India. The other thing that these auto majors have learnt is that, in India, you need to be very cost competitive, because the Indian local manufacturers get out cars which are very cheap and sturdy so they need to design cars which are built keeping the Indian conditions in mind," Pratap said.

In a country where price matters, the compact cars designed for India cost around $8,000 to $10,000.

Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Director General Dilip Chenoy explains why small cars are the overwhelming favorites in India.    

"Small cars are within affordable reach and they give you intrinsically a better fuel efficiency and they cost less to maintain, so the overall total cost of ownership of a small car is such that it is very appealing to the Indian customer," Chenoy said.

Many of these compact cars are not only designed for India - they are also being manufactured in the country, to hold down prices in a market where margins are slim.

Auto analysts say domestic companies such as Tata Motors - which produces the world's smallest car, the Nano - have already demonstrated that India has the engineering skills and low-cost facilities to produce small cars. This has encouraged several global automakers to head to India.  

Yogendra Pratap says some global automakers are expanding existing production facilities and others are making an entry.

"Toyota's second car plant is coming up.  Hyundai already has a second car plant.  Nissan Renault is setting up a huge car plant, and Volkswagen has just set up a car plant.  So the infrastructure is already on the way, the ground has been laid ready for India becoming a global small car hub," Pratap said.

Many automakers also plan to export the small cars produced in India to other countries, as the world focus moves from gas guzzlers to more fuel-efficient vehicles.  This helps them achieve economies of scale and reduce costs.   

Dilip Chenoy says annual car sales in India are set to nearly double, to four million by 2016, while the turnover of the automobile industry is expected to rise to nearly $150 billion.  

"The ambition in India is to reach a kind of a market size of $145 billion by 2016. And, if we have one or two good years, like last year, and next year may turn out to be, we will be on track in achieving this ambition, and we could become a significant player in the automotive industry by 2016," Chenoy said.

But although car manufacturers are hoping to turn in profits in the growing market, many worry that more cars on Indian roads will only worsen congestion in towns and cities, where traffic already moves at a slow pace on crowded roads.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More