The Indian Government has said it will not allow India to become a junkyard for outdated automobiles or technology in the post-WTO era and may impose restrictions to protect domestic industry.
"Let me assure you that we will not let this auto industry suffer. Under no circumstances, shall we permit India to become a dumping ground for junk imports or junk technology," Maran said.

Allaying apprehensions of the domestic automobile makers arising from the removal of quantitative restrictions (QRs) after April 2001, he said WTO does not disallow imposition of restrictions.

"All it says is that restrictions need to be transparent and consistent," Maran said at the conference on `E-commerce in the Automotive Industry'.

The minister said if the government decides, the tariff route was also available as there was no bound duty (maximum tariff agreed under WTO) on second-hand cars.

"These are all in the realms of possibility," he added.

Stressing on the importance of e-commerce in the domestic automotive industry, Maran said the conference would be an important milestone in the journey of the domestic automotive industry towards the goal of fully e-commerce enabled community.

The Director (IT) Asia Pacific and South Africa of Ford Motor Company, John Larson said the company was setting up a Software and Development Centre in India for future e-business activities.

Stating transactions on the Internet would increase from 700 per month at present to 5000 by 2002, he said, "India would play a vital role in Ford's global strategies".

Larson, however said the country required a reliable fibre optic data network to take advantage of the IT revolution.

He said Ford has recently joined hands with other automotive giants like General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Renault-Nissan to form `Covisint'- a B2B venture for the auto industry.

"It is a venture with initial equity sharing between all the partners," Larson said.

In his opening speech, the SIAM President Venu Srinivisan said domestic demand for automobiles was likely to grow in the second half of the current year due to the expected seven per cent growth of the economy.

"The paradigm of E-commerce will create more opportunities for this sector. The auto industry being one of the key drivers of the economy is focused on envisioning its growth through the new economy," Srinivisan said.

He said the adoption of E-commerce has become critical in automobile industry due to increasing globalisation and intense competition.