Osamu Suzuki, the ageing but sharp-as-a-katana patriarch of the Suzuki
empire, was in Delhi to announce an investment of $1.8 billion in research
and development, while Carlos Ghosn, the charismatic manga-like hero and
CEO of Nissan and Renault, was busy signing a three-way collaboration with
none other than Bajaj to make an ultra-low-cost car.
R&D and Suzuki? Yes. A small car venture in India by a Japanese company?
Yes. Here are two Japanese firms that have understood the true potential
of the Indian car market - one that has been around a while and is making
giant strides, while the other does not want to waste a minute to get into
the thick of action.
Investors in Nissan and Renault around the world will be praying that
Ghosn has read the Indian market right because he now has four ventures in
India for the Nissan-Renault combine - a product specific JV with Mahindra
& Mahindra, another with Ashok Leyland, a small car facility coming up
near Chennai, and now the small car tie-up with Bajaj.
But as an observer of the industry for over a decade and as a visitor at
the recent Tokyo Motor Show, there are reasons to think that most Japanese
might be a bit late getting on to the India bus.
Text: Bijoy Kumar Y
Photograph: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
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