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Govt open to suggestions from auto industry, changing regulation: Gadkari

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Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said that the government was open to receiving suggestions from the automobile industry and that it will make changes in regulations based on the industry’s “concerns and constructive recommendations.”

The minister suggested that the auto industry form a think tank of retired business leaders, retired government officials and bureaucrats to have a better dialogue with the government. An independent think tank would be impartial to the interests of individual companies and can thus put the industry’s and nation’s interests at the forefront while interacting with the government, Gadkari said.

“We are open and ready for discussions whenever you feel we need to change regulations based on data and research,” he said while speaking at the 60th SIAM Annual Convention. Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers (SIAM) is an industry lobby.

The government was also open to look into delaying future regulation changes till the industry recovered, according to Gadkari.

He further urged automakers to bring flex-fuel vehicle technology to India. Flexible fuel technology, wherein ethanol can be blended with petrol, is popular in Brazil, US and Canada, he said. Global manufacturers have that technology for their vehicles designed for these markets and the same can be brought to India.

A policy was being formulated wherein auto companies with a net worth of over Rs 250 crore could open their own petrol pumps, the minister said, with the caveat that they also open a prescribed number of clean fuel pumps.

Gadkari has long been a vocal proponent of ethanol as a clean fuel substitute to bring down India’s crude import bill, reduce pollution, and support the agricultural community.

Vikram Kirloskar, vice chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, agreed that the Indian automobile industry has not done enough in this direction and that the industry should work more on increasing the ethanol blending in petrol.

The road transport and highways ministry’s focus on construction of highways will also benefit the auto industry as more roads and infrastructure spend will result in more auto sales, Gadkari claimed. “We are building 22 green express highways. In 2 years, the Mumbai-Delhi express highway would be ready that will reduce the travel time to 12 hours.”

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‘COVID-19: Minimum touch ethos to be key value drivers for auto makers for connected cars’

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As the coronavirus pandemic heightens dependency on smartphones, digitisation, health, and hygiene, convenience-led customer experience with minimum touch ethos will be key value drivers for automobile manufacturers for their connected cars, according to Deloitte.

Automakers will need to build a connected car strategy that contains a differentiated customer experience at its core backed by technological innovation and data insights to cater to the new-age digital consumer, the consultancy firm said in its latest automotive report.

“Today, deeper customer engagement via added components of enhanced data-driven customer experience provides OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) the opportunity to monetise data and increase product stickiness,” Deloitte India Partner and Leader-Automotive Rajeev Singh said in a statement.

He further said while designing the right customer experiences, cybersecurity will go hand in hand with the ease of using various features.

“For OEMs to thrive in the new normal, there is a need for them to expand horizons of development and partnership strategies across a wider gamut of the industry ecosystem,” Singh added. It will help cater to the increasing demand from the discerning Indian consumer while elevating product development and servicing standards, it added.

As COVID-19 elevates, the dependency on smartphones, digitisation, health, and hygiene is taking centre stage. A connected car’s proposition of minimum touch ethos, user preference awareness, and convenience-led customer experience will be key value drivers for OEMs, Deloitte said.

Citing a survey conducted by it, Deloitte said 69 per cent of Indian customers are concerned with the security of biometric data generated and shared with external parties by connected vehicles.

It added that 81 per cent are comfortable sharing their data with OEMs, dealers, and commercial third parties, if they receive significant benefits in return.

However, only 35 per cent of consumers say they would most trust a car manufacturer to manage their connected data, it added.

The consultancy firm said some of the emerging trends in connected cars include personalisation in in-vehicle infotainment; simplicity of tasks and having features like voice recognition and cybersecurity, among others.

It further said, “Consumers are always on the lookout for tailored experiences and seamless transitions from car to home as they wander in the technologically changing lifestyle.”

Vehicle-to-home connectivity helps customers get more work done, irrespective of whether they are at home or elsewhere, it added.


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Passenger vehicle, 2-wheeler wholesales to decline over next few months: Ind-Ra

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NEW DELHI: Domestic passenger vehicle and two-wheeler wholesales will come down in the next few months as inventory levels remain high at dealer level, according to rating firm India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The overall auto industry would however continue to grow in the next few months, it noted.

“With the festive season now over in India, the rating agency expects wholesale billings to moderate in the next couple of months, given that the inventory at dealer level for passenger vehicles (PVs) and two-wheelers is already at higher than the 21 days recommended by Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA),” Ind-Ra said in a statement.

However, it expects the overall automotive industry to continue to revive in the next two to three months, in line with improving economic indicators, it noted.

Over the past two-three months, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) had been focusing on stocking-up at dealership level ahead of the peak demand expected during the festive season in October-November, Ind-Ra said.

Consequently, production levels had surged since August 2020, with production volumes for PVs and two-wheelers up 32 per cent and 40 per cent (year-on-year), respectively, in October this year, it added.

“However, the continued higher wholesale billings than retail registrations during August-October have led to a considerable inventory build-up at the dealership level, particularly for two-wheelers, with the retail sales lagging behind wholesales during this period,” Ind-Ra noted.

At October-end this year, average inventory for PVs at dealership level stood at 35-40 days as compared with 25-30 days in the same period last year.

Similarly, average inventory for two-wheelers at dealer level at October-end remained high at 50-55 days as against 35-40 days in October-end last year, Ind-Ra said.

Retail registrations of PVs fell 9 per cent (year-on-year) in October this year, while the decline was much higher for two-wheelers, commercial vehicles and three-wheelers at 27 per cent, 30 per cent, and 65 per cent (year-on-year), respectively, the rating agency said.

It suggests that demand at the consumer level is yet to reach the pre-COVID levels despite the festive season tailwind, it added.


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Toyota Kirloskar Motor: Karnataka Employers’ Association calls for tough action to end Toyota Kirloskar stir at Bidadi

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka Employers’ Association has written to the state government asking it to take stern action against employees who have resorted to protests outside the Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) manufacturing facility at Bidadi, 40 km off Bengaluru.

In a letter to chief secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar, association president BC Prabhakar has expressed concerns over the possibility of the strike spreading to other industries as well. “We request you to take immediate steps to declare curfew around the premises of TKM, Bidadi, and take stringent action including arrest of troublemakers and also bar them from entering the Bidadi area,” the letter said.

Unless timely steps are taken, there is a possibility of such employee unfair practices spreading to other industries. This will permanently damage the investment climate in Karnataka, the association stated as the protests at the facility has entered the third week.

While the company has declared a lockout for the second time, some employees have continued with the protest. Their demand is to withdraw the suspension of 40 employees and to address some employee grievances. The management, however, said that it will allow the employees to work if they give an undertaking that they will not to indulge in anti-company activities and meet the production target.

Prabhakar said the strike and the lockout were sending a wrong signal to investors especially when several companies are seeing Bengaluru as a possible destination in the backdrop of anti-China sentiments. Karnataka has introduced several industry-friendly policies and laws recently. All of these will be futile if the strike at Toyota continues, he told ET.

In the letter, KEA has accused the president of TKM Employees Union of mobilising 500-600 workmen daily and making derogatory speeches. “It is noticed that the president is urging other factory workers to support the illegal agitation and this will totally vitiate the industrial relations in the entire area,” the letter said.


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