The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tie-up talks to improve quality of cars

New Delhi, Feb. 5: A gaggle of British automotive companies, including Land Rover, have begun talks with Indian carmakers, such as Hindustan Motors, Telco, Ashok Leyland and the Mahindras, on possible tie-ups for technology transfers and project alliances to improve the quality of cars in India.

The talks are being conducted under the aegis of the Trade Partners, UK, a British government-funded facilitator for industry tieups.

“There are some serious discussions that have been taking place over the past two days and we hope something will crystallise,” said Ken Hunt, business advisor to Trade Partners, while refusing to say who was confabulating with whom.

“We might not see any major investment. This is a collaborative process where the two sides will be sharing information on their various markets,” Hunt said.

Indian carmakers are trying to break into the tough European market and some of them already do so in countries like Portugal and Spain. However, the European Union is toughening emission norms for vehicles and this is where the British companies can help their Indian counterparts meet the exacting standards.

Hunt said the Foresight vehicle programme — a £ 100 million UK government-industry initiative to develop futuristic technologies for the automobile industry — is also looking to harness Indian expertise in the areas of telematics and information technology.

“The Foresight vehicle programme is running at least 400 projects for the last six-seven years. They have been very successful and some of them have been completed,” said Hunt, who is here to attend the 15th India Engineering Technology fair organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Hunt said, “Until 2001, the focus of the Trade Partners programme was not very integrated. But in 2002, we have brought close to 30-40 UK-based companies to talk to Indian entities. Out of these seven-eight business deals have been clinched. We hope to double the business this year.”

Hunt said India is one of five regions that has been chosen for the Total Automotive Package programme — a concept-to-sales automotive solutions programme — targeted at carmakers. “It’s a sort of cradle-to-grave programme for the automotive industry. We offer end-to-end solutions from design to recycling of used cars,” he added.

Speaking about the programme organised and run jointly by the DTI automotive directorate and Trade Partners UK, Neil Brigden, second secretary (commercial) of the British High Commission said, “ This programme developed by the British automotive industry caters from design to recycling in the automotive sector, particularly the component sector to take advantage of the overseas business opportunities.”

Brigden identified India, South Africa, Mexico, and central and eastern Europe as potential regions for synergy of business with UK.

Hunt said, “The challenges faced by vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers are common to both UK and India. Globalisation of the auto industry has increased the need to find partners around the world to stay ahead in the competition.”

The UK companies participating in IETF 2003 include Express Holdings (Thompson) Ltd, Fitstogether Ltd, Eagle Precision Europe Ltd, Hawkley International, Land Rover, Motorans Ltd, Powerpac Auto Electrics, Powertrain Projects and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd.

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