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India may be Suzuki's small car export hub

Last updated on: November 30, 2010 14:57 IST

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Japanese auto giant Suzuki Motor Corporation on Tuesday said it plans to make India an export hub for its small cars, mainly for European and African markets.

"For Europe, Africa and West Asia (Middle East), we are looking at India as an export hub," SMC Chairman Osamu Suzuki said at the Nikkei Business Summit in New Delhi.

He said the country's infrastructure needs to be developed in order to make India an exports hub.

"As we want to use India as an export hub, ports are very important. We would like to request the government to improve them (ports)," he added.

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Photographs: Reuters
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SMC's subsidiary Maruti Suzuki India had exported 1.47 lakh (147,000) units from the country in 2009-10.

When asked about SMC's deal with German auto maker Volkswagen, Suzuki said, "Suzuki Japan and Volkswagen Germany are in talks. Maruti Suzuki has nothing to do with those talks."

Last year, Volkswagen had picked up 19.9 per cent stake in SMC for $2.5 billion (around Rs 11,450 crore), since then the two companies have been discussing plans for joint production, engine development and a small car project for India.

Maruti working on diesel engine for sedan

The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India said on Tuesday that it is developing a diesel engine for mid-size sedans, which is likely to be ready by the middle of 2011.

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Photographs: Reuters
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"Currently work is going on for developing a diesel engine for mid-sized sedans. Our engineers are developing it internally and we are hopeful of getting it ready by mid (of) next year," MSI managing director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi said.

To begin with, the company is likely to utilise the new engine for launching a diesel version of its premium sedan SX4, he added.

MSI currently sources diesel engines from Fiat for its three models -- Swift, DZiRE and Ritz.

When asked about the company's sales for this month, Nakanishi said, "In October, our domestic sales crossed 1 lakh (100,000) units for the first time and we are expecting to do so in this month also."

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Photographs: Reuters
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In October this year, the company sold 107,555 units in the domestic market as compared to 95,148 units in September 2010.

The company's domestic sales for the April to October 2010 period saw a jump of 31.4 per cent at 62,837,8 units, as compared to the same period last year.

"However, it will be difficult to maintain such growth from coming month till March next year as the base was very high last year in the corresponding period," Nakanishi said.

Talking about the company's upcoming second and third production units at its Manesar facility, Nakanishi said, "Opening of the second plant will be preponed by about six months to the end of 2011. We are also trying to advance operations at the third plant, which is scheduled to start in 2013."

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The company had announced an investment of over Rs 3,500 crore (Rs 35 billion) to expand capacity at the Manesar facility.

At present, MSI, which is 54.2 per cent owned by Suzuki, has an annual capacity of 8.5 lakh (850,000) units at its Gurgaon plant, while Manesar can produce 3.5 lakh (350,000) units annually, with the overall capacity totalling to 12 lakh (1.2 million) units per year.

He said the company will close down the operations at the Gurgaon and Manesar facilities for annual maintenance work from December 25, 2010 to January 2, 2011.


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