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India’s role will grow in Skoda-VW drive: Gurpratap Boparai

Murali Gopalan | Updated on March 26, 2020

Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director, Volkswagen India

Skoda Auto Volkswagen India is on track with its India 2.0 initiative even while there could be some impact in terms of timing because of Covid-19. There could be delays in tooling and parts arriving on time but everything is largely on schedule.

The best part is that the programme has seen some “very fruitful collaboration” happening between the Czech Republic (home to Skoda), Germany (VW) and India. “There is interdependence between the three countries and we are all working towards the same goal. It is interesting and challenging and everyone is pulling in the same direction,” says Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director.

According to him, the India team is focussed on getting this done “very well” and the motivation levels are extremely high. “It is after many, many years that we have got such a project and everyone is really excited,” he adds.

The Pune Technology Centre marks “a small way” to kick off the project and its role will grow with the next round of initiatives from Skoda-VW, where there could be more work for global projects. Likewise, the creation of Skoda Auto DigiLab India will pave way for “the services that we can provide beyond cars to new age mobility solutions”.

India 2.0 is clearly the beginning of a bigger story to come though it will happen step by step. Some competencies have already been developed elsewhere across the world and the role of India is to complement these efforts.

Likewise, ASEAN is “definitely on the global radar” for India 2.0 in addition to doing “parts of projects” for the global markets. “We certainly have that ambition but need to work hard,” says Boparai.

By the end of the day, India 2.0 is the first building block of bigger things to come. “We know that for the next project there will be more responsibilities on our shoulders and we need to build our competencies going forward,” he adds.

The DigiLab, for instance, will work with start-ups even while there are other labs in the Czech Republic, Israel and China. All this will see another round of interesting collaborations which means India’s role will only become more important in the years to come.

For connected cars, India and China are ahead of Europe, at least in terms of customer expectations and adoptions, which means these two countries will be leading the fray. “Right now, everyone is offering a certain number of connected features and we need to see where the customers really see value,” says Boparai.

GenNext’s adoption of new technologies is faster going by smart phones and connected cars. Yet, he cautions that one needs to be careful when speaking of these things, especially on human capital. Costs also play a role in this transition and the key is to focus on value-addition since other skills can be picked up by others.

“We need to constantly be on the higher value-add of the supply chain since the lower value-add is extremely susceptible to being taken away from you especially if somebody else is cheaper,” says Boparai.

Published on March 26, 2020

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