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GM charges up local subsidiary

Bangalore, Feb. 25 (Agencies): Global automobile major General Motors Corp will invest over $ 100 million in its Indian subsidiary, General Motors India, by the end of next fiscal, a senior official said.

Aditya Vij, president and managing director of GM India, said the investment is part of the company’s strategy to get into volume growth business with the manufacture of Chevrolet series of cars. “With the increased investment to launch Chevrolet cars, volumes are expected to increase five fold,” he said. GM had so far invested $ 208 million in its Halol plant in Gujarat, he added.

In addition to this, GM will invest $ 60 million over three years in a technology centre here which would aid round-the-clock global engineering and research to make futuristic vehicles, said John Cohoon, executive director for global research.

He said that the centre, with 260 engineers to be hired over the next 18 months, will start work in June and collaborate with the US and European centres of the company over high-speed communication links from Bangalore. India’s pool of talented engineers will help GM meet a skills shortage and also give a cost advantage, the executive director added.

With a time-zone difference between European and US centres that form part of about 15 engineering centres that directly employ about 20,000 people worldwide, this centre would boost productivity and speed up vehicle research, he said. “This will establish for GM 24-hour-a-day engineering capabilities,” Cohoon said.

Global engineering groups like ABB and General Electric Co already have facilities in Bangalore as part of a new wave of manufacturing research after the city emerged as a software hub for high-tech companies.

With microchips among automobile components, the software that goes into them is also becoming a key factor.

B. G. Prakash, plucked out by GM from state-run Aeronautical Development Agency to become the director of its science laboratory, said the India centre would conduct research to aid the use of lightweight materials like aluminium and help develop “software intensive vehicles.”

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