If the success of home-grown designs at the recently concluded Auto Expo in New Delhi was not a good enough indicator of India turning into a hub for auto designs, here is another.
A number of major automobile companies are now testing waters with engineering and design schools in the country through design contests, diploma projects and interactions in the hope of capitalising on innovative designs coming out of Indian campuses.
Italian design house Pininfarina, which designs cars like Ferrari, Jaguar and Alfa Romeo, took the first step towards Indian designs when it signed a statement of intent to pursue collaborative automobile design activities with Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design.
A year into the agreement, the company is keen on establishing a 'global design hub' in India in the next couple of years, where Indian students would be absorbed for the venture.
Similarly, Mahindra and Mahindra's design competition for students called 'K. C Mahindra Award for Excellence' in automotive design, has identified three innovative student designs on the theme 'Long Haul Truck Cabin for the year 2015'.
The pan-India contest was won by students from Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal, KL Society's Gogate Institute of Technology, Belgaum and NID.
Arun Jaura, senior vice president, R&D and global product development, M&M, said that the winning designs would be institutionalised with the company and used in bits and pieces for its upcoming offerings.
"We would definitely be harnessing academic institutions and are keen to pick up students for our new research facility at Chennai," said Jaura.
Following interactions, three students from NID had been picked up by Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo on the basis of their designs at a design competition held by Fiat for an internship for six months.
M&M also picked up student winners of its design contests in the last few years whose designs were found exciting by the company.
Last year, Renault Design India launched a competition called 'Indesign' in partnership with the Autocar magazine to turn the spotlight on Indian design and it is expected to bring more development projects to India.
Most automobile majors are also ready to don the professor's hat with senior executives often going to design and engineering campuses to give lectures.
"We often have experts from M&M, Pinifarina, Renault and others on the campus interacting with students and giving inputs on clay modelling," said Pradyumna Vyas, chairperson of transportation and automobile design, NID.
NID has been at the forefront of the automobile action having set up a post-graduate programme in transportation and automobile design last year with 10 seats, which could be hiked in the near future.
The institute has also been the only academic body mentioned in the Automotive Mission Plan 2006-2016.
Darlie Koshy, director of NID, said that the institute was in dialogue with the heavy industries department of the central government, and that a styling and design centre will be established in the institute in the next 2 to 3 years.