India not a profitable market, but a very strategic one: Stellantis APAC head

The company aims to increase its domestic sales for all of its brands in India.

By Sergius Barretto, Autocar India  calendar 12 Mar 2024 Views icon3899 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
India not a profitable market, but a very strategic one: Stellantis APAC head

Stellantis currently operates three brands in India – JeepCitroen and Maserati – and while their individual domestic sales remain marginal, the auto conglomerate still considers India as a market of strategic importance. Speaking to the automotive media in Delhi, Ashwani Muppasani, chief operating officer, Stellantis India and Asia Pacific said, “India is not a profitable market for me, but it’s a very strategically important market because we design, manufacture, export and source from here.”

Indeed, while Stellantis’ domestic market share could be described as modest at best, its operations here have become profitable on the back of exports and sourcing of components, chief of which is a few lakh units of engines and gearboxes exported from India. Furthermore, the brand's JV with Tata Motors reported a 20.48 percent surge in net profit, amounting to Rs 759 crore in FY2023, and driven by the assembly of the hot selling Tata Nexon that it produces at its JV plant in Pune. 

Stellantis currently has a plant in Hosur that exclusively manufactures powertrains for domestic and export purposes, and two auto manufacturing plants – the Ranjangaon (Pune) plant that produces Jeep and Tata models, and the Thiruvallur (Chennai) plant that produces Citroens. In addition, the company also has local software and R&D centres in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Tamil Nadu.

This, Muppasani says, gives its Indian operations strategic importance as it enables Stellantis to be globally competitive. “Europe and the US are expensive because of inflation and logistics, so India gives us that strategic edge,” said Muppasani.

Domestic sales also need to be addressed

The company, however, is keen to improve its domestic sales; last year on average Jeep sold 545 cars per month while Citroen bagged about 780 units a month on average. Muppasani says that this will improve and the brand is committed to the Indian market. “It’s a patience game in India; we are committed to this market and you will see faster action from us and we will address our issues which we know we have.”

Broadly speaking, the brand has struggled with pricing its Jeep models and has grossly under-equipped its locally made Citroens. Muppasani says the company has begun work on addressing both issues, and to that end said that the Citroen C3 cars would have, "hygiene issues addressed" sharing examples of an auto AC system – currently manual – that would be introduced in July and a foldable key that would come sooner.

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