Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Pune, a global automotive leader – List of major players

Posted in Cars, Pune, Science & Technology by Amit Paranjape on March 14, 2010

Pune is the leading center for the automotive sector in India; as well as one of the top automotive centers globally. In the past year alone, 3 massive new plants from General Motors, Volkswagen and Mahindra & Mahindra were inagurated here. The Chakan-Talegaon Belt is becoming one of the most dense automotive clusters in the world. In this brief blog, I am compiling a list of major automotive companies in Pune and some brief information about them. Please add your feedback (additions/details, etc.) and I will update the blog post.                 

            

Tata Nano (Image Credits: Wikipedia)

Tata Motors                  

Tata Motors www.tatamotors.com  is the biggest automotive manufacturer in Pune, and the biggest one in India. The huge Pune campus consists of their corporate HQ, R&D Center and Manufacturing facility for their cars and trucks. 

Land-Rover

Land-Rover has recently started assembling some models near the Tata Motors Pimpri-Chinchwad facility.                 

Bajaj Auto                  

Bajaj Auto was one of the early automotive players in Pune. They have big base in Akurdi, Pune (R&D, Corporate and Manufacturing). A large new plant has been recently opened at Chakan.    www.bajajauto.com              

Force Motors (Formerly Bajaj Tempo)                  

Manufacturers of 3 Wheelers, Tractors, LCVs and Large Trucks. www.forcemotors.com                  

Mahindra Two-Wheelers (Formerly Kinectic Motors)                  

Manufacturers of Scooters, Mopeds and Bikes. www.mahindra2wheelers.com  Kinetic Motors has been an important player in the Mopeds and Gearless 2 Wheeler space in India. Their famous models include the ‘Luna’ and ‘Kinetic Honda’.                  

Mercedes-Benz                   

Mercedez-Benz entered the Indian Market in the 1990s, initially with a partnership with the Tatas. Later on, they setup an independent venture, Mercedez-Benz India. The Pune facility manufacturers and assembles a range of their well known luxury cars. www.mercedes-benz.co.in                  

General Motors                   

General Motors entered the Indian market in the past decade. The Talegaon Plant is a massive facility that recently started production. Cars manufactured here include the new Chevy Beat. www.gm.co.in                  

JCB                  

JCB manufacturers construction, earth moving and other industrial equipment. Their Talegaon plant and design center opened in 2006. http://www.jcb.com/india/homepage.aspx                  

Volkswagen                  

Volkswagen opened a massive new plant in Chakan Pune a few months back. Read more about this plant here:     This facility is presently geared towards manufacturing high-volume cars like the VW Polo and Skoda Fabia.   www.volkswagen.co.in                

Mahindra & Mahindra                  

M&M inaguarated a huge plant this past week at Chakan. Spread over 700 acres and built with an investment of nearly Rs 5,000 Crores (1 Billion Dollars), this plant will manufacture various models of SUVs and Commercial Vehicles.  Mahindra is also planning to manufacture new models from Sssanyong Motors.    www.mahindra.com              

Cummins Engines                  

Cummins, the world leader in Diesel Engines opened its Pune facility in the 1960s, in a joint venture with the Kirloskar Group. Later on, they decided to go solo. The Pune facility manufacturers a wide range of Diesel Engines and Generators, and also has a big design center. www.cumminsindia.com                  

Kirloskar Oil Engines                  

Kirloskar Oil Engines, part of the Kirloskar Group were one of the earliest auto-players in Pune. Presently they manufacture a wide range of Oil Engines for various applications. www.kirloskar.com                 

Premier Motors         

Makers of that famous Indian car of ‘The Premier Padmini’. Current models manufactured include Diesel Pickup Trucks and Vans. www.premier.co.in        

Fiat     

The new upcoming Fiat Ranjangaon Plant will manufactures the various models like Punto and Linea. www.fiat-india.com    

Bridgestone 

Bridgestone is setting up a big new plant in Chakan Pune with a total investment of around Rs 2,600 Cr. http://www.bridgestone.co.in 

Hyundai Construction Equipments    

Hyundai Construction Equipments is located on Talegaon-Chakan  Belt              

Research Institutes, Suppliers & Infrastructure Players                  

ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India)  www.araiindia.com   

ARAI is a the premier research and certification institution for the automotive industry in India. It has a beautiful campus on top of a hill in central Pune (near ‘Vetal Tekdi’).   

In addition to the Auto OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), Pune has a wide range of  Tier-1 Tier-2 and infrastructure suppliers. Prominent Industry Players include:                  

Bharat Forge                  

Bharat Forge is one of the top forging companies in the world. They manufacture a wide range of forged auto components. Their Pune facility includes their HQ, Design Center and Manufacturing Facility. www.bharatforge.com                  

Sandvik                   

Sandvik is a world leader in cutting tools. Their Pune facility has been around for nearly 50 years. www.sandvik.com                  

PARI Robotics & Automation                  

PARI is one of the leading industrial automation companies and have setup factory automation systems at many global manufacturing facilities. www.parirobotics.com                 

Software & Information Technology       

Software and IT are increasingly playing an important role cars and automotive manufacturing. Many leading global CAD/CAM/CAE Software Leaders are based in Pune. These include: Siemens (formerly UGS), PTC, Ansys. Important IT Outsourcing Players in this space in Pune include Geometric and KPIT Cummins.       

              

An Indian Road Trip in the 1980s – We sure have come a long way!

Posted in Cars, Travel by Amit Paranjape on May 24, 2009

I recently made a long road trip from Pune to Goa, a distance of nearly 500 km (320 miles) in around 7 hours. The scenic route has a combination of nice 4 laned highways and beautiful winding mountain roads that descend down to the sea coast. The average highway speeds were comparable with the US average 60mph. I was driving a nice car – with ABS, multiple airbags, climate control, powerful engine, and great suspension & handling.

So what’s so great and special about this? Young readers in India, as well as the readers in the US will not understand my sheer joy in driving in these conditions with these ‘basic’ features! You folks have been taking the roads and the car features for guaranteed, for way to long. To appreciate my experience, you will have to step back to India in the early 1980s. (A rough analogy might the pre-freeways US roads in the 1950s…).

To bring you upto speed, let me sketch a typical driving trip in India, a quarter century back.  Sit back and enjoy the ride…if you can 🙂

Our family’s car of choice (not that there was any choice during those days…only Fiats and Ambassadors were available. The new phenomenon ‘Maruti’ was just around the corner) was the Fiat 1100, sporting a ‘powerful’ 47 HP engine with a 4 speed (non-synchromesh) gearbox. It was made by Premier Automobiles; but was rarely referred to by its official name, ‘Premier Padmini’. Visitors might still see a few of these cars upon landing at Mumbai Airport – some of these vehicles still serve as the ‘yellow & black’ taxis.

In those days, a Fiat was the standard car…the Ambassador, a big ‘luxury’ car! Note – any ‘car’ in general was not for the masses, and there was no talk about a Nano. The real ‘people’s car’ was the bicycle! Even a 2 wheeler in those days was expensive and tough to buy. (Some people might remember those times when it took 10 years to get a Bajaj Scooter..).

A road trip was an ‘event’…an adventure. Someone has said ‘It is the journey that is more important than the destination’. How true! I will not bore with you all the details; rather let me just highlight the ‘high-points’ of a typical road trip from that ‘era’. In my preferred style, I will highlight 10 points:

1. Before  you set-off, there were a series of ‘checks’ that may have rivalled a ‘pre-flight’ checklist of an aircraft. There was the car radiator that needed constant filling up. Same with the car batteries water level. And the engine oil level check. Infact, opening the front hood was an extremely common occurence.

2. Talking about car batteries – they were as reliable as the cars in those days…needless to say ‘Dhakka Start’ (people pushing the car to get it started) was common.

3. Refueling in the city was a must – there were no guarantees about any highway side fuel stops.

Once you were off, the only positive thing compared to the present, was the traffic – It was orders of magnitude lower than you would encounter today.

4. 6 people would be comfortably seated in the car: 3 in the front, and 3 in the back. Yes, this car had ‘bench’ seats in the front. The carrier on the roof of the car was packed with all kinds of stuff. (I vividly remember a Kokan trip where we had sets of those ‘old style’ Mango Crates tied down on the top..!)

5. Flat tires were extremely common…cannot remember a single long trip where we didn’t have a tire ‘puncture’. We all were quite adept at changing the spare tire (‘stepney’ as it was called in those days..). This was followed by a stop at a small town ‘tire-walla’ to get the tire fixed. Oh..in those days, tires had tubes in them. (I am assuming that the reader knows that majority of the cars today have tubeless tires…if you are not one of them, then ignore this para all together 🙂  )

6. Frequent mechanical breakdowns were common as well…and these too for ‘new’ and ‘well maintained’ cars. You were lucky if it was a case of a simple over-heating … in this case you simply poured more water into the radiator, let it ‘blow some steam and cool down’, and then drive on. If it was more serious, then the only option in most cases was to hitch a ride with a passing-by truck/bus to the nearest town…find a mechanic, and bring him back to the car. The saving grace was that these cars were ‘easy’ to repair and after a few hours – you could move on! Oh..and the only ‘phone’ we knew those days was that big black box like device with a round dial on top of it, that made an irritating ringing sound (when it used to work). Today’s cellphone would have looked straight out of Star Trek in those days.

7. Ofcourse the cars were luxurious…well relatively speaking 🙂 Airconditioning was unheard off. The standard cooling solution consisted of those innovative ‘triangular split’ windows that diverted wind into the passenger cabin. And there was no music-system either. Music (if any) was (as they say in the web 2.0 world today) ‘user-generated’. The background score was typically provided by the cacophony of the engine and suspension rattling.

Did I mention that the Fiat 1100 had no power steering, no power-brakes? But driving with all those aids is for wimps… right 🙂

8. The lack of airconditioning created interesting problems during rainy weather. The front wind shield glass used to get fogged rightaway, with the condensate. The only option to get rid of that moisture was to have the ‘co-pilot’ constantly and skillfully wipe-off the wind shield, without distracting the driver.

9. There were no highway side McDonalds or Food Malls in those days. There were some good restaurants or more appropriately ‘food shacks’ (Tapris) along the way. Some people will vividly remember that Khopoli favorite on the old Mumbai-Pune Highway, ‘Ramakant’ – famous for their ‘Batata Vadas’.

10. If you were driving off the highway on the country roads, the experience used to be even more interesting. A car was a rare sight in rural India in those days. We felt ‘important’ 🙂 Like a VIP motorcade driving by! Proper tar roads were often times non-existent. The car used to leave a huge storm of dust..literally throwing it into the onlookers’ eyes. I am sure those villagers must have been cursing us ‘city folks’.

After all this adventure when you finally made it to your destination, there was this immense satisfaction about a ‘big achievement’. The driver used to really earn his ‘stripes’ those days…and so did the car… Since for all its short comings and problems it was a great way to travel!

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