Global auto companies drive into India on young talent, government policies
Some of the world's top automakers are looking to India as the next big market and innovation powerhouse propelled by its young, talented workforce, growing economy and favourable government policies. Detlev von Platen, executive board for sales and marketing at Porsche AG, said India's unstoppable energy is a "wake-up call" for Western economies such as Germany, saying efforts towards mere preservation of status and wealth will leave no room for innovation and progress.
When compared to the mood in Germany, Platen said "I would like to see a little more Indian spirit for us. More optimism, positivity - more drive."
Echoing similar views, Ola Kallenius, global chairman of the board of management at Mercedes Benz AG, told ET, "You get a sense in India, it's like the 21st century belongs to India. There is such a buzz, such a pulse. The country is on the move".
Sofia Frandberg, executive V-P and member of the group executive board at Sweden's Volvo Group, added that "the transformation" she has seen in India in the past 15 years is immense and the country is poised to grow manifold over the next decade.
Platen, Kallenius and Frandberg are among a dozen-odd global executives who have visited India in recent months to review their businesses in the country, which has emerged as the world's fastest growing major economy. These executives are flocking to India, drawn by its vast market potential and promising human capital, which is in stark contrast to Western economies where the demographic dividend is on the wane.
India has recently replaced China to become the world's most populous nation. Coincidentally, this comes at a time global MNCs are drawing up blueprints to diversify risks aligned with their 'China Plus One' strategies.
"I spoke to political representatives, Porsche customers, investors and young entrepreneurs. What they had in common: an incredibly positive charisma, optimism and creative joy. I was particularly moved by the young, well-educated Indians who had studied abroad and were returning to their homeland because they recognised the immense potential in its market," Platen said in a post on social media platform LinkedIn.
He admitted there are still challenges in India but people have the "will to get down to business and make a difference". Those who only try to preserve leave no room for innovation and progress, he said.
Kallenius said Mercedes Benz has its largest R&D set-up outside of Germany in Bengaluru. The 5,000-odd strong team of engineers there is working on all global development projects for Mercedes-Benz. India is also one of the four countries (along with the US, Israel and Germany) leading the projects on data security at a time when the automotive industry is moving towards electric, connected and autonomous technologies.
By Sharmistha Mukherjee & Chaitali Chakravarty