NEW DELHI - To consolidate its car manufacturing activities in India, Fiat Auto S.p.A. has raised its stake in Ind Auto Ltd., its joint venture with Premier Automobiles Ltd., from 51 percent to 76 percent.
The joint venture now will be known as Fiat Indauto Ltd.
Fiat, which has announced plans to invest a total of $1 billion in India, said it will inject another $60 million into Indauto.
DaimlerChrysler, Daewoo, Honda, Ford, GM and Toyota already have enhanced their stakes in their respective joint ventures in India. Hyundai operates through a 100 percent-owned local subsidiary, Hyundai Motors India Ltd.
'The ownership realignment is not unusual for the automobile business, which demands huge investments,' said Maitreya Doshi, a principal in family-owned Premier and a director of Indauto.
Doshi said he considers the new arrangement more advantageous for Premier because it has now become a partner for Fiat's entire India product range. Previously, Premier was Fiat's partner only for the manufacture and sale of the Uno.
Indauto will begin producing the Siena, Uno and Palio at its Kurla plant in Mumbai, which has a capacity of about 60,000. A new plant at Ranjangaon, near Pune, is under development.
Fiat said Siena sales in August rose 44 percent over July, to 716. Officials said the Palio would be priced between $9,300 and $11,620 when it goes on sale next year. That would place it at the bottom of the price ladder for cars in its segment, the mid near-luxury segment in India.
Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor, both of which have launched new models in the segment, have priced their entries slightly above that range. The segment leader, the Maruti Esteem, is priced below $9,000.
Meanwhile, to commemorate its centenary, Fiat launched a special model of the Uno, called the Jubilee.
The car, especially made available for India this year, is priced at $8,015 for the Jubilee AC and $9,700 for the DS model.