INDIA: VW launches first local car in India
Volkswagen has launched its first locally assembled car in India - the Passat.
It plans to launch three other vehicles by 2009, the year in which it hopes to be ready with an India-specific small car, Business Standard reported.
The next launch is likely to be a mid-sized sedan, Jetta, which is about the same size as Honda City, by the middle of the next year.
Passat and the other models will be assembled at the Aurangabad plant of Skoda until its own Rs 2,450 crore plant coming up in Pune is ready.
The India made Passat will be available only in the diesel version through a dealership network of three, which is to expand to 10 by the end of the year.
The next in line for launch in India, apart from Jetta, are sport utility vehicle Tourareg and either Polo or Golf.
Earlier, VW had planned to set up a base in Andhra Pradesh. Its executives met the state officials to finalise the site. However, the plans came undone amid corruption allegations against B Satyanarayana, the state's industry minister at that time, and the company's Indian agent, Helmuth Schuster.
According to the charges, about Rs 10 crore invested by the Andhra Pradesh government had been transferred to a private account.
The state government, headed by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, promised legal action against the company for breach of promise.
VW then toyed with the idea of setting up shop in Punjab, but it did not work out.
"Work on our new plant in Pune is in fulls wing and it should be ready by the end of 2009," said Kevin Rose, executive-director, international sales, Volkswagen AG. This facility will have the capacity to make 110,000 vehicles a year.
The company is working on a small car for India that will compete with Maruti's Swift, Hyundai's Getz and General Motors' U-VA. But it says the project is at a nascent stage. A decision may be taken in six-nine months after gathering the initial response to VW brand.
"Passat will set the pace for our future product launches in India as it is the key market for our overall strategic growth plans," said Joerg Mueller, managing director, Volkswagen group sales India.