Automobiles - 1

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* Introduction of Automobile
The automobile industry in India actually began about 4,000 years ago when the first wheel was used for transportation. In the early 15th century, the Portuguese arrived in China and the interaction of the two cultures led to a variety of new technologies, including the creation of a wheel that turned under its own power. By the 1600s, small steam-powered engine models were developed, but it was another century before a full-sized engine-powered automobile was created. The dream a carriage that moved on its own was realized only in the 18th century when the first car rolled on the streets. Steam, petroleum gas, electricity and petrol started to be used in these cars. The automobile, as it progressed, was a product of many hands, of revolutionary concepts, and of simple, almost unnoticed upgrading. India's transport network is developing at a fast pace and the automobile industry is growing too. The automobile industry also provides employment to a large section of the population. Thus the role of automobile industry cannot be overlooked in Indian Economy. All kinds of vehicles are produced by the automobile industry. It includes the manufacture of trucks, buses, passenger cars, defense vehicles, two-wheelers, etc. The industry can be broadly divided into the car manufacturing, two-wheeler manufacturing and heavy vehicle-manufacturing units. “The major car manufacturers in India are Hindustan Motors, Maruti Udyog, Fiat India Private Ltd., Ford India Ltd., General Motors India Pvt. Ltd., Honda Siel Cars India Ltd., Hyundai Motors India Ltd., Skoda India Private Ltd., Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd., to name just a few.”

* History of Automobile
The first motor car on the streets of India was seen in 1898. Mumbai had its first taxicabs in the early 1900. Then for the next fifty years, cars were imported to satisfy domestic demand. “Between 1910 and 20's the automobile industry made a humble beginning by setting up assembly plants in Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. The import/assembly of vehicles grew consistently after the 1920's, crossing the 30,000 mark in 1930.” In 1946, Premier Automobile Ltd (PAL) earned the distinction of manufacturing the first car in the country by assembling 'Dodge Desoto' and 'Plymouth' cars at its Kurla plant. Hindustan Motors (HM), which started as a manufacturer of auto components graduated to manufacture cars in 1949 In 1952, the GOI set up a tariff commission to devise regulations to develop an indigenous* automobile industry in the country. After the commission submitted its recommendations, the GOI asked assembly plants, which did not have plans to set up manufacturing facilities, to shut operations. As a result General Motors, Ford and other assemblers closed operations in the country. The year was 1954 and this decision of the government marked a turning point in the history of the Indian car industry. The GOI also had a say in what type of vehicle each manufacturer should make. Therefore, each product was safely cocooned** in its own segment with no fears of any impending competition. Also, no new entrant^ was allowed even though they had plans of a full-fledged manufacturing program. The restrictive set of policies was chiefly aimed at building an indigenous* auto industry. However, the restrictions on foreign collaborations led to limitations on import of technology through technical agreements. The other control imposed on carmakers related to production capacity and distribution. The GOI control even extended to fixation of prices for cars and dealer commissions. This triggered the start of a protracted legal battle in 1969 between some carmakers and GOI. Simply put, the three decades following the establishment of the passenger car industry in India and leading up to the early 1980s, proved to be the 'dark ages' for the consumer, as his choice throughout this period was limited to two models viz Ambassador and Padmini. It was only in 1985, after...
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