Headcount target at over 1,600 in 2 years

Bangalore track

Centre near

Bangalore already working to develop-design major vehicle parts.

Does a

large chunk of work for cars being developed for Australian, S. Korean markets.

It is also

the fastest growing among GM’s 12 centres.

K. Giriprakash

Bangalore, Aug. 26 The India centre of the General Motors’ technical centre will be able to design and develop complete cars for the global market soon even as the centre plans to double its headcount to over 1,600 in two years.

“We are on a learning curve. We are growing from engineering services to full product development service,” GM technical centre director for engineering and operations, Ms Sheila Jain Sarver, told

Business Line

.

The centre which currently has around 800 engineers is also the fastest growing among the 12 centres of the world’s leading car market. Since its launch in 2003, General Motors has invested over $60 million in the India centre.

The centre will also set up the clay model of cars in November this year in its newly expanded 1.6 lakh square feet capacity near Bangalore. The centre has already started working on developing and designing major parts of vehicles.

“We did not want to outsource our work to others because once you do it yourself, you take full ownership of the product you develop,” the centre’s senior manager for engineering and business planning, Mr Ravi Desai, explained.

Tapping talent

Most of the global car makers have outsourced design and engineering part of their cars to Indian companies to reduce costs as well as to take advantage of the vast pool of talent in India.

Ms Sarver said even though General Motors does outsource some part of product development, GM’s centres across countries allows it to harness inhouse talent. Currently, the centre near Bangalore does a large chunk of work for cars being developed for the Australian and South Korean markets.

In three-five years, the centre will have the capability to do full vehicle development for the Indian market as well as for other markets. “We are getting larger and larger chunks of projects. You need a number of learning cycles before you get to the stage where the centre can have the confidence to do complete projects,” she said.

Long-term planning

One of the policies of General Motors is to allow local engineers to slowly come of age rather than import a mature work force and put the centre on fast track. Such long-term planning has helped each centre to develop its own capabilities, giving each of them an identity of their own.

“We provide training, we have separate budgets for each centre and we also send engineers to work in other centres who come back equipped with doing better work as well as return with more work for the centre,” the centre’s engineering group manager, Mr Shaun Marshall, said. He said the Bangalore centre currently does work on key sub-systems like bonnets and chasis sub-system and has started doing the entire ‘face-lift’ for newer versions of passenger cars.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 27, 2007)
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