Four years after it began operations in India, Isuzu Motors today officially inaugurated its all-new plant at SriCity, Andhra Pradesh and rolled out its first made-in-India D-Max V-Cross pickup.
Till now, Isuzu Motors India (IMI), a subsidiary of Isuzu Motors, Japan, had been selling its pickups as completely knocked down (CKD) vehicles assembled at the Hindustan Motors plant in Chennai. The new plant, which is spread across 107 acres, has a manufacturing capacity of 50,000 units which can be scaled up to 120,000 units per annum. Set up with an investment of Rs 3,000 crore, it will provide employment to 3,000 people.
The plant was inaugurated by Nara Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, and Masanori Katayama, president, Isuzu Motors Japan. Speaking at the inauguration, Katayama said: “We are very happy to start local manufacturing operations in India, which is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. India is a key part of Isuzu Motors’ global growth strategy. The new plant will not only cater to the requirements of the growing Indian market, but in future will also serve as a key manufacturing hub for Isuzu’s global operations.”
Hiroyasu Miura, chairman of Isuzu Motors India, said: “The globally proven D-Max pickups will be manufactured at this plant under high quality standards in line with ‘Isuzu Manufacturing Management’ practices. We have found Indian suppliers to be capable of meeting Isuzu’s global quality standards and we will follow a high localisation strategy for manufacturing operations in India.”
The company has begun local manufacturing operations and has tied up with 120 suppliers comprising Tier 1 and 2 component manufacturers. Also, a few key suppliers have signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up their manufacturing plant in the region. Isuzu says that, in the future, it will explore opportunities to export components to other Isuzu plants in the world.
Extending its range of pick-ups, Isuzu Motors India revealed the next-generation D-Max V-Cross (4x4) double-cab pick-up at the Auto Expo in February. The company is likely to launch it in June 2016 and will also produce the D-Max Crew Cab, a four-door pick-up with a cargo deck, from the SriCity plant
While the V-Cross is based on the same underpinnings as Chevrolet’s Trailblazer SUV, the D-Max’s interiors are also in line with the SUV. It shares the dashboard with the Trailblazer with the exception of the instrument cluster and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system. This new interior makes the Isuzu D-Max look more upmarket than the company's even more premium MU-7. The four-door D-Max is powered by a 2.5-litre, 130bhp, BS IV diesel motor paired with a five-speed automatic gearbox, and gets all-wheel drive.
Localisation to be prime focus
Isuzu Engineering Business Centre India (IEBCI), a new company that Isuzu Motors set up in November 2015, will be responsible for the company's R&D and sourcing activities. IEBCI will primarily focus on enhancing efficiency and quality levels of IMI products, enabling the company to achieve 70 percent localisation at Start of Production (SoP) and 100 percent localisation in the future. IEBCI will also serve as the specialised hub for sourcing parts for Isuzu’s global operations.
Isuzu, which plans to expand its dealer network in the country, currently has dealerships in Delhi, Noida, Jaipur, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Madurai, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Kochi, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Gurgaon, Indore and Vadodara.
Expanding cities and faster last-mile delivery has seen the 2- to 3.5-tonne GVW pick-up market grow in India. During FY16, a total of 183,414 units were sold, a year on year growth of 3.5 percent. The segment is largely dominated by home-grown player Mahindra & Mahindra with total market share of 69 percent last year.