NEW DELHI - Cars made in India match those made in Europe for quality, and India has the ability to emerge as a significant exporter of vehicles, an official at industry consultant J.D. Power said on Wednesday.
Gerrit Kuyntjes, J.D. Power's Asia Pacific general manager, told Reuters the quality of cars made in India was the best in Southeast Asia outside South Korea and had fewer problems than those produced in neighboring China.
"At least for one particular large vehicle maker (the local unit of Hyundai), the quality levels match the segment performance in European markets," said Kuyntjes, in India to present a local customer satisfaction survey.
"So if they are doing it, then the skill, capability, technology, commitment is available in this market. But how the Indian brand plays out in Europe, how distribution is built over many years, is difficult to comment on."
Indian car sales are expected to jump 30 percent in the fiscal year to March 2004 to nearly a million units after robust economic growth and interest rates near three-decade lows spurred a spending boom in Asia's third-largest economy.
Thirteen firms, mostly units of global players such as General Motors, Ford and Toyota, crowd the competitive Indian market and some have begun using vehicles made at their local plants to service the export market.
Though small, Indian exports nearly doubled in the April-to-January period to 101,902 vehicles, helped by growing foreign sales of compact cars.
Nearly 80 percent of the cars made in the country are minis or compacts and are made entirely in India using local parts.
South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. announced in 2002 that it would start using India as an export base for small cars. Its exports from India more than quadrupled in April-January to 32,775 units from 7,038 units in the same previous period.
Foreign sales of market leader Maruti Udyog Ltd., a unit of Japan's Suzuki, jumped 58 percent in April-January to 39,868 units, helped by a growing acceptance of its Alto compact model in Europe.
India's biggest vehicle maker, Tata Motors Ltd., signed a deal in 2003 to supply 100,000 of its Indica hatchbacks to Britain's Rover for sale in Europe over the next five years. The Indica is India's home-grown car.