Lord Paul to drive into Singur with metal plant
BIT By bit, the much-talked about Rs 1,500-crore Tata Motors small car project at Singur in Hooghly district of West Bengal is taking shape. Even as the political quagmire threatens to steal the thunder at times, the “vendors” have slowly begun to troop in, determined to make the first car roll out on the promised date in June 2008. Among the latest to have taken up positions on strife-torn Singur is the € 2 billion Caparo Group of the UK, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Caparo Engineering India, which is investing in sheet metal and stamping facility at the vendor park to supply the classy interiors the Tata small car is destined to sport. Confirming this from his London office, Swraj Paul aka Lord Paul of Marylebone told ET: “We have investment plans for the auto component park in West Bengal. My team is working on it. Things will take final shape within two weeks. We can talk more about our investments then.” If that leaves even the slightest niggle of doubt, shed it. West Bengal government sources went a step ahead and actually said the Caparo Group has already kicked off construction work at Singur, a sign of the mood that reigns within the factory site, despite everything. And Caparo isn’t the only one. Many others have started digging their heels in and the lineup includes eminent auto component makers such as Rasandik Engineering, Rucha Engineering, Lumax and JBM Auto. All these developments apparently come in the wake of a single Tata Motors’ SoS recently requesting component makers to step on the gas to help roll out the small car in time. ET’s email to Tata Motors MD Ravi Kant on Tuesday regarding the developments, prompted the official spokesperson to say: “Tata Motors has always said the small car will be launched in the first half of 2008-09. Every activity, connected to the project, is tuned to meeting this objective. The total investment by Tata Motors will be about Rs 1,500 crore. Vendors, who are setting up facilities at the adjacent vendor park, will make additional investments.” While Caparo Engineering would contribute to the interiors of the car, the fuel tank would be supplied by Rasandik Engineering Industries. Rasandik already supplies fuel tanks for Indica X1 and other critical components like welded blanks, door inners, cross-car beams, press tools and dyes. Rasandik plans to invest Rs 55 crore at the Singur vendor park in the first phase. In this context, Rasandik Engineering VP commercial Mohan Sukhal said: “Spread over approximately 12 acres, the unit will have a state-of-the-art press line. It will be our fifth plant, the other four being located at Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Pune and Mysore.” Rucha Engineers will supply the complex assemblies of sheet metal and tubes for the interiors and Umesh D a s h r a t h i , MD of the company said: “We have already started construction of our unit at Singur. We are investing Rs 45-50 crore in the unit which is spread over 10 acres. The unit is expected to be ready by December 2007. At present, Rucha has two units in Maharashtra, one in Aurangabad and the other at Chakan.” The Rs 500-crore Sharda Motor Industries will supply exhaust systems for the car. The company has a number of factories at Noida and Chennai. Anil Wadhwar, president of the company, said: “We have acquired seven acres at Singur. Right now, we cannot comment on the volume of investment. We will be supplying the exhaust system to the small car.” Sharda Motor has a technical coll a b o r a t i o n with Sejong Industrial Ltd, a leading Korean firm, for exhaust system. Backed by the huge experience of Lord Paul and the Caparo Group, the Rs 400-crore Caparo Engineering India of course, specialises in the manufacture of automotive stampings in steel and aluminium. The company supplies a vast range of products from auto body parts, chassis components, reinforcements, brackets to frame addons and other general stampings to various carmakers. Caparo Engineering, at present has stamping units at Pitampur ( M a d h y a P r a d e s h ) , Greater Noida (UP) and Halol (Gujarat) and a fastener manufacturing unit in Chopanki (Rajasthan).