Motown exports firm up
A weaker rupee has boosted the fortunes of Indian car makers, with some big-ticket export orders coming their way. Major players, such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Nissan, who have been battling sluggish demand at home, have their order books full for the next two months. Lured by higher export margins, Toyota Motors, world’s No. 2 car maker, also intends to foray into the export market. Hyundai Motor India which has primarily been exporting hatchbacks to Europe, Latin America and the West Asia, has seen car exports jump 16% to 501,794 units in 2011 over the previous year. While India has an advantage of lower labour cost, the rupee depreciation has further increased its bargaining power and volumes, he said. Maruti, which is recovering from the four-month industrial strike at its Manesar plant, has bagged orders for 4,500 more cars from its global distributors. Maruti has seen a major demand coming from new markets like Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan Brunei and South Africa in recent months. India’s largest car maker also plans to start CKD operations (cars shipped as loose components and assembled in the destination market) for the first time where it will export its yet-to-debut Ertiga multi-passenger vehicle to parent Suzuki Motors' global distribution channels. Besides, it will also start exporting the new DZire — an extended version of its popular New Swift —that would be launched next month. South Korean carmaker Hyundai, which is India's top exporter shipping about 40% of its production, has seen improved export demand for its i10 and Santro hatchbacks as well as Accent sedan. It has also started exporting Eon, which is pitted against Maruti’s Alto. Executives said they have been able to bargain better by offering lucrative margins to distributors because of the weaker rupee. Another Japanese carmaker Nissan will also begin exporting its C-segment Sunny Sedan from March, beginning with the West Asia. Its compact car Micra, produced only in India, is exported from its Chennai plant.