Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pune-Nashik US$ 1.56 billion auto investment

The Pune-Nashik belt, part of Maharashtra's Mumbai-Pune-Nashik golden triangle, home to numerous automobile and component units, is attracting a fresh wave of investments in the sector estimated at over Rs 7,000 crore.

The state is in the process of wooing Volkswagen to set up a plant in the belt. Besides, there is speculation that Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) may set up its multi-utility vehicle unit there. This will translate into investments of about Rs 3,000 crore.

Even without this, the Pune-Nashik belt seems firmly positioned as the most dynamic auto belt in the country – ahead of Delhi-Gurgaon and the area on the fringes of Chennai.

When Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh announced that DamilerChrysler had chosen to invest Rs 250 crore in a second plant in the area he was merely touching the tip of the iceberg.

The Mumbai-Pune-Nashik triangle is already serving as a manufacturing base for domestic auto giants such as Tata, Bajaj Auto, M&M, Kinetic, Force Motors, MICO-Bosch and Bharat Forge. General Motors has chosen Talegaon in Pune district as the site for its first small car plant in the world and lined up a Rs 1,400 crore investment. A General Motors spokesperson said, "There is a strong base of automotive components suppliers in the Pune belt. Another important factor is the availability of a world-class port like JNPT."

M&M is investing Rs 700 crore in the Nashik plant to produce the Logan car in association with French car manufacturer Renault. It will also invest Rs 600 crore in the Inginio project for manufacturing multi-purpose vehicles to take on Toyata's Innova and Chevrolet's Optra.

Bajaj Auto has announced a Rs 2,000 crore expansion at its two-wheeler plant in Chakan. Bajaj Auto Vice-Chairman Madhur Bajaj, who is also president of the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture, said, "Pune has become the largest auto manufacturing centre with the entire spectrum of automobiles being produced here. This has led to the creation of a vast network of component vendors who offer international quality work."

Tata Motors' deal with Fiat has given a fillip to Fiat's plans to set up a plant at Ranjangao in Pune district. The plant will absorb about Rs 1,500 crore.

Auto ancillary major MICO-Bosch has announced plans to expand, by investing Rs 600 crore, in modern diesel technology, high-pressure common-rail system at its plant in Nashik.

Bharat Forge is also setting up a new unit by investing Rs 300 crore in Baramati in Pune district. V K Jairath, state industry secretary, said, "The automobile industry has been the state's traditional strength. We manage to capitalise on this because of good infrastructure, a highly skilled and motivated manpower, our fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, good vendor base, etc."

A strong presence of R&D organisations such as the Automotive Research Association of India also goes in Pune's favour.

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