Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest car maker, says it aims to do all vehicle testing in-house, bringing down the reliance on its Japanese parent.
It will invest another Rs 1,900 crore at its research and development (R&D) facility at Rohtak, Haryana, over the next couple of years; it had already put in Rs 1,900 crore. Equipped with vehicle testing and evaluation labs, and test tracks spread over 31 km, the 600-acre facility has already tested two of the latest cars (Brezza and Ignis) launched by the company. These tests have been done for the frontal and side crash and pedestrian safety norms. Earlier, its vehicles were sent to Japan for testing at Suzuki's facilities.
"Suzuki has a level of capability. We are also building capabilities at our end. Co-work with Suzuki will continue but we should be capable to do whatever is needed end-to-end for development and validation of a car," said C V Raman, executive director (engineering).
Maruti started making its earlier 800-model in the early 1980s. The facelift of its Zen in 2003 was the first significant work done by engineers here. With time, they have grown their capabilities and successfully developed the Brezza from a concept; all engineering work on that was in India. Maruti now has 1,400 engineers. "We are now in a position to do tests independently," said Raman.
The first phase of the Rohtak facility (70 km from Delhi) was commissioned in November 2015, for Rs 1,900 crore. "We want to develop capabilities to support Suzuki on global products. Suzuki needs to be confident that tests done here will give results similar to a test done in Japan," explained Raman.
India is making a number of regulations mandatory for vehicle safety. From October this year, all new cars need to meet full frontal, offset frontal and lateral/side crash norms. All cars from October 2018 will also need to comply with pedestrian protection norms. For existing cars in production, there is a two-year additional time to meet all these norms. Maruti says five of its vehicles -- Ertiga, Ciaz, Baleno, Brezza and Ignis -- meet all these. And, that the Rohtak facility will enable it to make most of its vehicles compliant with the norms at least a year ahead of the deadline.