Force Motors opens new engine and axle plant at Chakan

by Amit Panday , 22 Jun 2016

Force Motors' all-new engine and axle assembly plant was officially inaugurated today by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis along with Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests & Climate Change; Frank Deiss, global head, powertrain, Mercedes-Benz; Dr Abhay Firodia, chairman, Force Motors; and Prasan Firodia, managing director, Force Motors and other dignitaries.

Force Motors' new plant will assemble 14 engine variants across the four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel configurations for Mercedes-Benz India, which is located within a distance of a kilometre from the site.

The Pune-based company has invested Rs 100 crore (part of Rs 700 crore investment earmarked by Force Motors across its businesses over the next two years) in setting up this assembly plant, which is spread across 130,000 square feet  accommodating 8 assembly lines for assembly and testing operations. The assembly lines, however, are currently operated manually (manually moving the engine-mounted trolleys across the various assembly stages) as against its Rs 200 crore Chennai-based plant where engine assembly operations run on automatic conveyor belts. The latter caters to BMW India.

Force Motors officials, in this regard, say that as the demand for engine assembly will grow in the future, the assembly lines will be upgraded with more equipment.

The new Chakan plant, according to the company, has a current built up assembly capacity of 20,000 engine units and as many front and rear axles per annum.

Under the current single-shift basis, the new plant can assemble around 1,200 engine units in a month. The engine, transmission and axle assemblies, however, are based on a low rate of localisation, which the company officials did not reveal.

It is estimated that if the demand for engines and transmission assemblies grow in the future substantially, it can open up localisation opportunities, which could directly benefit Force Motors' components business.

In his keynote speech, Dr Abhay Firodia, chairman, Force Motors said, “We look forward to supply (components / aggregates) to (our customers in) Germany in future.”

The company's association with Mercedes-Benz spans across 45 years, and within that it has been supplying engines to Mercedes-Benz India (MBIL) since 1997. According to a company release, it has supplied MBIL with more than 60,000 engines and 50,000 axle units.

"This project was conceptualised in June 2015 and the first engines rolled out in February 2016," quotes the official release.

"We are expecting a growth of around 15-20% to our topline over last year. Much of this depends upon the monsoons this year," said Prasan Firodia while addressing the press later.

"The aggregate business (including engine assembly operations) contributes around 30-35% to our overall revenues. The remaining comes from our commercial vehicle business (including tractors)," estimated Firodia.

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