Blog: Dave LeggettIndia briefing

Dave Leggett | 17 December 2003

Useful meeting yesterday by way of preparation for the automotive trade mission trip to India next month. I was impressed with a presentation delivered by Ken Hunt, who is on the India desk at Trade Partners UK (a British government department). He exuded the confidence of someone who knows the place inside-out and there was a good overview of India's economy and society followed by a concise summary of its automotive markets. The main point - it's a good environment for growth in automotive products. Very low car density (eight cars per thousand population) gives excellent growth potential; economy is now modernising and growing; also, a consumerist culture is emerging amongst a large swathe of the poulation. Good place for luxury products too. The 'very rich' is already sizeable and will be growing fast. And I learnt that just 25% of the population uses toothpaste (I guess that suggests toothpaste manufacturers should be excited by growth potential).

And then there are the very low wage costs and relatively high educational standards. Lots of anecdotes about thousands of applications for technician level positions and companies where even the guys on the assembly lines are graduates. Here's a question: will India go the way of China and develop in a big way as a low-cost manufacturing location or will it make use of its advantages and develop more as a low-cost location for higher value added services? Increasing 'offshore sourcing' of services jobs could be the big challenge for the industrialised countries of the West over the next twenty years. I recall that Fabrizio Giugiaro told the audience at Automotive News Europe's Congress in Paris earlier this year that he plans to set up a studio in India. Those Indian designers are probably quite cheap to maintain. Makes you think.

And among the handy tips? Make sure you wash your hands after handling money and you reduce the risk of contracting 'Delhi belly'. I'm getting in the mood.


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