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Indian auto industry facing one of the toughest times in history, needs govt support: Kenichi Ayukawa

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The Indian auto industry is facing one of the toughest times in history and needs government support through reduction of GST and incentive-based scrappage policy, Maruti Suzuki India Managing Director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said on Friday. Ayukawa, who is the president-elect of auto industry body SIAM, said the sector has been “set back by many years” by a combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the slowdown that has been going on since last fiscal. As the global health crisis broke out, he said, the auto industry in India also played its part by getting into manufacturing of ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and importing testing kits from abroad to fight the virus although sales have been hit hard.

“In August we can say we just came back on our feet to achieve performance comparable to last year. Also last year is not a good comparison as the industry saw negative growth of 15-25 per cent. This negative growth has set back the industry by many years,” Ayukawa said at the 60th annual convention of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) conducted online. Reiterating the long pending demand of the auto industry to reduce Goods and Services Tax (GST) on automobiles by 10 per cent, Ayukawa said, “we are facing one of the toughest times in history. The industry needs your support”.

“We are eagerly waiting for GST reduction and scrappage incentive scheme. We believe that taxes on the increasing turnover will be more than the government expenditure on the scrappage scheme and GST reduction,” he said. He thanked heavy industries minister Prakash Javadekar, who assured the gathering that he will take up the matter of GST reduction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Ayukawa also said the growth witnessed in the last couple of months is on a very low base of last year and “we are also not sure whether this is sustainable in future” while festival demand is very important.

“So, at some point of time we definitely need some support from the government,” he said, adding the industry is waiting for a government decision to encourage demand. Ayukawa said maximising production and increasing sales volumes of the auto industry can help in generating tax revenue, which the government can put to use for funding welfare initiatives.

In the next two years, he said the Indian auto sector will focus on “building the nation responsibly, through sound development of the industry”. Sound development of industry would mean increase in production and sales volumes, exports, more localisation of parts, including electric vehicle components and make India self-reliant or Atmanirbhar Bharat.

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Maruti Suzuki’s premium hatchback Swift India’s ‘best-selling’ car model in 2020

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New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki India on Saturday said its hatchback Swift has emerged as the best selling car model in India in 2020 with 1,60,700 units. In 2020, the model has also crossed the cumulative sales milestone of 23 lakh units since its launch in 2005. It crossed the 5 lakh milestone in 2010, 10 lakh in 2013 and 15 lakh in 2016, the company said in a statement.

Commenting on the milestone, Maruti Suzuki India Executive Director (Marketing & Sales) Shashank Srivastava claimed that “Swift has been the best-selling premium hatchback in the country for the past 15 years with over 2.3 million delighted customers.”

He further said, “Despite the adverse impact of COVID-19, brand Swift sold over 1,60,700 units in CY 2020, emerging as the top brand in the pecking order.”

The company said more than 53 per cent of Swift customers are below the age of 35 years, thus establishing the model as “the ‘coming of the age’ car with its tech-savvy features, value-for-money offerings and sporty design”.


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Tata Motors launches i-Turbo petrol variant of premium hatchback Altroz

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New Delhi: Tata Motors on Saturday launched the i-Turbo petrol variant of its premium hatchback Altroz at an introductory price increment of Rs 60,000 above the existing petrol variants of the model. The company has also added a new top of the line XZ+ variant in petrol and diesel fuel options to the Altroz range. It is priced at Rs 8.26 lakh for the petrol variant and Rs 9.46 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the diesel option.

The Altroz i-Turbo is launched at an introductory ex-showroom price increment of Rs 60,000 above the Altroz Revotron petrol variants, the company said in a statement.

At present, the petrol variants of the Altroz are priced between Rs 5.7 lakh and Rs 8.86 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

The i-Turbo variant of the Altroz comes with iRA-connected car technology which has 27 connected car features along with natural voice tech, through which the car understands commands not only in English or Hindi, but also in Hinglish, Tata Motors said.

The car is powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged BS-VI petrol engine delivering power of 110 PS at 5,500 rpm.

Commenting on the launch, Shailesh Chandra, Tata Motors President – Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, said since the launch in January 2020, in FY21, the company’s market share in the hatchback category has increased by 5.4 per cent compared to last fiscal.

“…we have captured 17 per cent market share in the premium hatchback segment. We are confident that the new Altroz range will cater to the evolving needs of the Indian customer, all while creating benchmarks in the segment,” he added.

The Altroz is the first product on the ALFA architecture and the company has sold more than 50,000 Altroz within its first year of launch.


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Tesla sues former employee for allegedly stealing software code

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Vehicles pass the Tesla Inc. assembly plant in Fremont, California, U.S., on Monday, May 11, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla is suing a former employee and software engineer named Alex Khatilov, alleging trade secret theft and breach of contract.

In the complaint, the company accuses Khatilov of grabbing code and files from WARP Drive, a back-end software system that Tesla developed to automate a range of business processes involved in manufacturing and selling its cars. They also accuse him of deleting possible evidence when security teams confronted him.

Khatilov was hired to help Tesla’s Quality Assurance team create software that could automate tasks or business processes related to Environment, Health and Safety.

The complaint says he began working for Tesla on December 28, 2020, and almost immediately began uploading files and scripts (written in a programming language called Python) to his Dropbox account. Tesla confronted him about his alleged theft on January 6th.

The code is of concern to Tesla because it could reveal to competitors “which systems Tesla believes are important and valuable to automate and how to automate them – providing a roadmap to copy Tesla’s innovation,” the complaint says.

This isn’t the first time that Tesla has sued or accused ex-employees of trade theft. Tesla sued Guangzhi Cao for copying Autopilot source code to his personal accounts and devices in late 2018. That case is still ongoing.

The company also sued former employees who wound up at other electric and autonomous vehicle businesses, Rivian and Zoox, over alleged theft of intellectual property.

Tesla revealed in the new complaint on Friday that only 40 people of about 50,000 total employees work on the company’s Quality Assurance team that hired Khatilov. The company also says it has spent an estimated “200 man-years of work” to develop the code in question.

The case is here:


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