ŠKODA AUTO and Volkswagen have celebrated the opening of a new Technology Center in Pune, India, attended by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and other government officials. On behalf of the Volkswagen Group, ŠKODA is leading the INDIA 2.0 project, which sets out the Volkswagen Group’s model campaign on the Indian market. CNG vehicles may be forthcoming.
At the new Technology Center, 250 engineers will be developing vehicles tailored to the needs of customers in the subcontinent. To ensure maximum market proximity, ŠKODA AUTO will achieve radical localization of 95 percent, meaning that almost all vehicle components will be made in India.
Christian Strube, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Technical Development says: “By opening the Technology Center, we underline our determination to make the INDIA 2.0 project a success. India has excellent universities and highly qualified staff; this state-of-the-art facility will help us to unlock that huge potential – especially with regard to design and development. Local development is the key to success.”
The Technology Center in Chakan, around 30 kilometres north of Pune, represents the first major step in implementing the project. ŠKODA AUTO and the Volkswagen Group are jointly investing 250 million euros in research and development projects in India; most of the technical development is to be carried out locally. The Indian engineers will be responsible for project management, electronics, infotainment, body design, interior, chassis and complete vehicle.
Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director of Skoda Auto India Private Ltd and, since 1 January 2019, also Managing Director of Volkswagen India Private Limited (VWIPL), emphasizes: “The Technology Center will lay the foundation for the development of products that are specially designed for the Indian market. We expect to roll out the first products, for both the ŠKODA as well Volkswagen brands, by 2020-21.”
Boparai is widely reported to have stated that if India’s plan to become an economy powered by natural gas comes to fruition “there’s big scope for Volkswagen India in the CNG vehicle space”. This possibility also fits with Volkswagen’s 2016 declaration (by Dr. Jens Andersen, Group CEO for Natural Gas Mobility) that NGV development stands alongside EV as ‘ecologically equivalent’ prime pillars of focus for the global auto manufacturer.
While meeting the same core standards for safety, quality and design that the Volkswagen Group represents worldwide, both ŠKODA and Volkswagen will be launching models with their own typical characteristics on the market. All of the planned models will meet the stricter safety and emission targets that will come into force in India in 2020 and beyond, which will even allow them to be exported to other emerging economies.
In July 2018, the Volkswagen Group confirmed a EUR 1 billion investment in the INDIA 2.0 project, which will primarily be used in developing ŠKODA AUTO and Volkswagen vehicles for the Indian market.