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GM to upgrade Bangalore facility

Friday, 12 March , 2004, 16:41

General Motors, which early this month offered to buy the passenger car assembly plant of Daewoo Motors India, is contemplating upgrading its IT facility in Bangalore as a design and engineering centre which will ultimately support an auto manufacturing presence in India.

''What GM is doing in India is similar to what it did in Mexico and China over the past 10 years, growing a design and engineering capability that will ultimately support an auto manufacturing presence in that country.

''GM's Bangalore facility will also work in tandem with GM engineering centers in Europe, South America, Korea and China,'' company's vice president of engineering Jim Queen said.

The world's biggest carmaker eliminated more than 4,400 white-collar contract jobs in just over two years, many of them to countries like India to take advantage of low costs.

Some computer-based work such as design or engineering support, previously done by U.S. contractors, had been shipped to the GM Bangalore research lab on which the company has spent 21 million dollars and where it has about 200 workers.

''We have one global vehicle development process now,'' Queen said, adding that he and his engineering counterparts overseas hold a monthly teleconference, and every three months stage a three-day meeting in a different part of the world, where they review product plans and drive competitors' vehicles as well as their own.

''GM is not yet building vehicles in India, but is giving its 200 technical staffers in Bangalore computer-aided-design and math modelling work for other projects around the globe to prepare them for the day when GM will build and sell products in India,'' Queen said, according to a report.

He said the approach had played out in GM's Mexico and Shanghai engineering centers. ''The Mexico staff's first big assignment years ago was a bumper system for the Chevrolet Cavalier. Now that location can handle a complete new vehicle design. In China the engineering center is creating a new interior for Buick Regals made and sold in China, where they are often used as chauffeurs' vehicles,'' Queen said.

GM's aim, Queen said, is for its engineering centers around the world to assist each other on projects as needed, and also develop specific areas of expertise.

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