Last Updated : Nov 14, 2018 01:12 PM IST | Source:

Reporter's Take|China's top SUV maker is driving growth through a low-key Bengaluru R&D centre

For Great Wall Motors, a small research-and-development (R&D) centre in India’s own Bengaluru has quietly become integral to its plans.

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb

With the technology wave rapidly transforming the global auto industry, Chinese auto giants are trying to make sure they are at the forefront of these changes. For one of these players, Great Wall Motors, a small research-and-development (R&D) centre in India’s own Bengaluru has quietly become integral to its plans.

Great Wall Motors is China’s largest sports utility vehicle (SUV) and pick-up maker. Like several other Chinese automakers, it is betting big on new technologies such as autonomous driving, hybrids, plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles.

Towards that end, the company in June 2016 set up an R&D centre in Bengaluru at a cost of Rs 3 crore.

Since then, the India unit, Great Wall India Research & Development Private Limited, has gone ahead and roped in several dozen engineers over, sources to Moneycontrol.

These IT engineers, about 50 in all, have worked with companies such as Tata Elxi, Tata Consultancy Services, Robert Bosch and Continental Automotive. At the R&D centre, they work on hybrid systems, machine learning and battery management systems, among other projects.

Great Wall is one of the major Chinese automakers, selling a little over a million units in 2017, and notching up revenues equivalent of Rs 10,500 crore.

Several Chinese automakers, such as SAIC, BYD, Geely and Quanjiang, have shown an interest in launching products in the Indian market, which is growing at the double the rate of their home country. They have already set up manufacturing units in India. Product launches from these companies are expected to start from as early as next year.

While Great Wall has not made any official announcement yet about an India foray, it is preparing for it.

Great Wall makes small and medium-size petrol and diesel-powered SUVs that could compete with vehicles ranging from Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza to Toyota Fortuner. However, the company has pushed for new energy technology such as electric vehicles for future growth.

However, Great Wall’s entry is unlikely to take place before 2020, which is when India adopts its strictest emission standard till date Bharat Stage VI. This will be preceded by India’s adoption of its maiden crash test norms and followed by corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFÉ) norms in 2021.

Last year, Great Wall launched its first battery electric sedan in China in May. This came amid a sustained push by the Chinese government for adoption of cleaner emission vehicle technology including battery electric and hybrids.

Earlier this year the company entered into a joint venture contract with German giant BMW to produce electric variants of the Mini as well as scout for new energy vehicle technology and technologies of the future.
First Published on Nov 8, 2018 03:09 pm
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