Mutual Industries plans Thai unit for Tata pickup

Talks are on with Thai company for a joint venture to make plastic components.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 03 Oct 2006 Views icon8118 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Mutual Industries plans Thai unit for Tata pickup
Mutual Industries, which makes auto exterior and interior plastic parts, is setting up a unit in Thailand to manufacture parts for Tata Motors' world pickup truck to be launched in 2007. Mutual Industries will conclude talks with a Thai company by October so that it is ready to mould and supply components to Tata Motors. "As far as Thailand is concerned, we will be the single source for plastic components," JM Gandhi, managing director, told Autocar Professional.

Established in 1979 by JM Gandhi and DK Gandhi, Mutual makes exterior parts like bumpers, side trims and front facia, interiors like dashboards and trims, and under- bonnet performing parts like cylinder head covers and throttle bodies. The company counts on Tata Motors as its biggest customer. It has acquired five acres in Tata's vendor park in Uttaranchal to supply components for the Ace.

The company also makes plastic components for Mahindra & Mahindra, General Motors and Ford (for the Fusion). It provides parts indirectly to Toyota through Toyoda Gosei while talks are on with Hyundai. Similarly, Mutual offers tooling to Maruti and Honda. It moulds medium-sized parts for both manufacturers but is targeting them for larger parts.

The focus will now shift to heavy commercial vehicles. The company built the first plastic front in the truck industry for Ashok Leyland’s HCVs. "We developed about 20 components for Leyland. The largest injection moulded automotive part today is the hood of the truck measuring 4.5 x 7.5 feet," said F Walter D'lomen, business development director.

The company's goal since inception is to become a complete solutions provider in plastics. It is therefore importing a European machine for twin sheet thermoforming at its Silvassa injection moulding facility. The technology will be used to manufacture plastic fuel tanks. It also plans to present this technology for Tata's Rs 1-lakh car as opposed to GE (General Electric) re-engineered plastic that Tata Motors' chairman Ratan Tata mentioned during his company's AGM.

Mutual is expanding its other injection moulding facility in Sanaswadi, Pune as well at an investment of Rs 15 crore. The company is also setting up a new modern state-of-the-art paint shop in Pune, close to the existing facility, with an investment of Rs 35 crore. Moreover, this facility will house 3,200-tonne injection moulding machines and be commissioned by next March.

Similarly, Mutual is increasing tool room capacity in Vasai. Its investments in all facilities put together will equal Rs 90 crore over the next 9-12 months funded through debt and internal accruals. The company is diversifying as in the case of developing plastic fuel tanks through plastic thermoforming. The technology will allow it to cater to the plastic requirements of high-end passenger buses where plastic interiors cannot be injection-moulded.

Gandhi said that he is also looking to set up units in Jamshedpur and Kolkata in order to be close to customers. The company achieved a turnover of Rs 105 crore last fiscal and plans to increase this to Rs 145 crore this year. "We are looking at a scenario where we would be a Rs 500-crore company in the next five to six years," he said.
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