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Global auto technology Congress in Chennai
With a production of 45 lakh vehicles, India is the fifth largest producer of automobiles. Global leaders have set up manufacturing facilities in India. A recognition of India’s stature is evidenced by FISITA, the International network of over 200,000 automotive engineers in 37 countries and the Society of Automotive Engineers planning to organise the FISITA 2018 Congress.

FISITA has been holding the biannual congress in deve-loped countries that for long alternated between America and Europe, later extended to Japan, China and South Korea. This is the first time India will be hosting the meet.  The importance of the conference was in evidence by Dr Pawan Goenka, managing director, Mahindra and Mahindra, along with leading lights of SAE India, Aravind Bharadwaj and N Balasubramanian, addressing the media 18 months ahead!


Focus on innovation, technology...

Goenka said “for 70 years FISITA World Automotive Congress has been a forum for industry experts, engineers and executives to exchange ideas and discuss trends that will drive the automotive industry forward. Globally, the auto industry is going through a period of disruption where new technologies and newer business models are adopted that can potentially disrupt the existing order. The age of connectivity, shared mobility and electrification is upon us. By bringing toge-

ther global experts, FISITA is offering us the right platform to look into the future, which will be all about affordable and sustainable mobility.”

Goenka referred the recent efforts in the west to concepts such as driverless vehicles. “Such an idea may be difficult in Indian chaotic road conditions, but soon the industry will catch up with such advances,” he added. 


Increasing R&D spend

Goenka referred to the impressive “expansion of the auto industry but pointed to the need to focus on innovation through technology.” When I pointed to the modest commitment of Indian industry to R&D, Goenka said that the situation had changed substantially since 2000. He pointed to the experience of his company: “in 2002 M&M spent one per cent of its revenues on R&D. This has increased since to 4.5 per cent in 2016; factoring revenue growth tenfold, R&D spend has expanded to a factor of 30 over these 15 years.” 

Another welcome feature is large automobile companies setting up large research centres: M&M employs over 2500 at its research centre at the Mahindra World City. Leyland has a 2000 plus strong research centre in Chennai. The huge success of Renault’s small car, Kwid, launched with a very high indigenous content of 97 per cent, was the product of joint research by France, Korea, and India. Add to these the success of R&D at TVS Motors, BMW, Daimler Bharat, Enfield India, Ford, Hyundai...

Dr. Aravind Bharadwaj, Chairman FISITA 2018 steering committee, expressed happiness over SAE India succeeding in getting the conference from developed countries to India. Chairman FISITA 2018 organising committee, N Balasubramanian, said over 500 research papers in current and emerging technologies would be presented at the Congress and over 150 companies across the globe would showcase the technology products in the exhibition at the Chennai Trade Centre. 


Why Chennai? 

Goenka pointed to the several attractive features of Chennai like world-class convention centres, easy availability of hotel accommodation at affordable prices, the large presence of OEMs, full-service suppliers, technology hubs, test track and, above all, modest costs as among Chennai’s attractions. 

The state government should capitalise on this mega conference and provide the delegates the several attractions for investments. - SV

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