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New norm a boon for latest car models

December 10, 2004 09:28 IST

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade last week decided to permit import of left-hand drive cars into India for research and development.

This means car makers from left-hand drive markets don't have to wait till they have launched their car in a right-hand drive market, such as the UK or Australia, before they launch it in India.

The short point being, companies such as Hyundai, Ford, General Motors, Skoda and Fiat can now simultaneously launch their cars overseas and in India.

Picture this -- the Ford Fusion that will hit the local roads this month has been burning rubber overseas for more than two years.

Hyundai's hatchback Getz, which was launched nearly two years ago, was launched in India only in September 2004.

Left-hand drive cars can now be brought into India for homologation and after necessary approvals can go straight into production.

Thus far, car makers from left-hand drive markets such as the US, mainland Europe and South Korea had to wait till their cars were launched in other right-hand drive markets such as the UK, Australia, Japan and South Africa before they could bring those cars into India for homologation.

The process would typically take over a year, leaving Indian masses pining for the latest cars on the international circuit.

"Besides," an industry analyst said, "the ruling will help India become a real manufacturing hub for foreign car makers as they can test and produce the cars meant for the US and European markets out of India without having to wait for the car to launched in another right-hand drive market."

Companies such as Ford and Hyundai, which produce cars in India for export to Europe, will now be able to manufacture new models for the US and European markets in India.
Parvathy Ullatil in Mumbai