I visited Proton of Malaysia in 90s with my Mitsubishi friend Kaneki. Proton was a showpiece of Malaysia’s pride in Mohatir era. It was something like Maruti Motors, India of those days with a little difference. Proton had its own R&D that developed a number of cars of its own. Maruti didn’t have real R&D in those days.
Proton had taken the technical know-how from Mitsubishi, but as it appeared during the visit, the relations were not very amicable. Japanese as usual never wanted to share the real technical know-how and never wanted the collaborators to come up with its own ideas or innovations. I had similar experiences with Isuzu Motors as well as Mitsubishi Motors. Western automakers were very open even in those days. Was that the reason that first Japan, then South Korea, and now China could develop its own auto sector so fast? Unfortunately, India has failed in that. Perhaps, the only two companies in car business had very poor short -term strategies and lacked mission as well as vision. Today both the car manufacturers, HM as well as Premier Automobile, who wished to survive through monopolistic manipulations, are almost of no significance in car manufacturing.
Tata Motors gradually evolved as car manufacturer and established itself with ‘Indica’. Tata Motors today is the sole Indian car manufacturer in real sense. Mahindra and Mahindra is also trying to join it with collaboration with Renault of France for manufacturing cars. And the ambitious Anand Mahindra appears to have some clear vision in car business though M&M has failed once with its tie up with Ford, USA.
As reported, VW, Germany is trying to take over Proton, Malaysia. I think the Proton has given up the endeavour to do it on its own, as it wanted earlier. Proton had at one time tried to tie up with some Indian manufacturers too. Perhaps, with Mohatir gone, the government support for Proton diminished.
Car industry world over is changing business model. Big Three of USA have become insignificant. Toyota, Nissan after Ghosn’s contribution, and Honda are becoming the major players. In Europe, VW and Renault are significant players in the compact cars. On quality front, BMW is leader in the industry. With Daewoo gone, Hyundai is the main player in S. Korea. Chinese car manufacturers will still take time to come out of China to play a big role.
But will only Tata Motors and M&M serve India, or some others will join the sector? Will they be big enough to compete with the global biggies? The questions remain unanswered.
A news item today about Tata Motors’ plan to acquisition Deawoo Motors, Romania made me raise a question. Why didn’t it buy the India’s Daewoo plant that was almost new?
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