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Sanand cranks up for festive season auto demand

Sanand, Gujarat's automobile hub, has revved up to meet the festive season demand. Factories of Tata Motors and Ford India, along with those of their vendors, are humming to meet the demand, slated to rise 15-20 per cent during October-November.

"The Ford plant is working in a single shift but vendors are working in two shifts. The response to the newly launched Figo Aspire sedan, as well as the Figo hatchback, has been good and there is a lot of action ahead of the festive season," says an engineer working for a Ford vendor.

Sources estimate Ford is rolling 1,100 cars out of Sanand every day. Chains of trailer trucks waiting near the Tata and Ford plants point to the activity within. "The western region recorded delivery of about 1,100 cars in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh on the first day of the festive season (Navratra). Majority of the deliveries comprised the new GenX Nano, the Bolt and the Zest," said a Tata Motors spokesman. "Beginning with Ganesh Chaturthi, we have seen a rise in demand for all our cars."

Ford did not respond to queries. Its dealers say there is a waiting period for some of the company's new models. Pramukh Nanda, director of Cargo Motors, which runs a chain of Ford dealerships, says, "We sold out our entire allocation in September. Now, in October, we have short supply."

Sanand catapulted to fame with the entry of the Tata Nano in 2008. Sales of the car are now galloping, following a long lull. Between April and September this year, Nano sales soared 83.2 per cent year-on-year to 11,943. Exports have grown over five times during this period, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Ford, too, has tasted success with its sedan Figo Aspire, launched in August. About 5,000 cars were sold in the first month; sources say sales fell to 3,500 in September. The model, however, continues to see traction.

Ford is planning to triple exports from India through the next five years. Vendors say most of its cars made at Sanand have left-hand drives.

The 125-km stretch covering Sanand, Hansalpur and Vithalapur, with connected nodes at Kadi and Halol, is set to emerge as the next major automobile hub in India and, possibly, in the Asia-Pacific region. Car makers have committed investments of Rs 15,000 crore to make 1.25 million cars and two million two-wheelers here every year.

Another Rs 10,000 crore of investment is awaited from Maruti Suzuki and Honda, taking the installed capacity to 2.2 million cars in the next eight years. A similar investment has been readied by vendors of these companies. Around 100 of them have either set up facilities or are working on those.

The Gujarat government plans to increase the share of automotive industries to the state's overall engineering output from the current 3.7 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020.