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Bosch opens fifth manufacturing plant in Karnataka

Livemint:  August, 2015

Bengaluru: German auto components maker Bosch Ltd on Thursday opened its new factory at Bidadi, an industrial area about 35 km from Bengaluru.

The plant’s first phase, built at a cost of Rs340 crore, will employ about 3,000 people. It has started producing common-rail fuel injection (diesel) systems at the site.

Considerable delays in essential services like power connections had earlier prompted Stephan Berns, president and country head for Bosch India and managing director of Bosch Ltd to consider moving out of Karnataka.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company earmarked close to Rs1,500 crore in September 2013 to expand manufacturing capabilities at its two plants in the state - Adugodi and Bidadi - over seven years.

This is Bosch’s fifth manufacturing facility in Karnataka and the 14th in the country. About 17,000 of the 29,000 employees of the Bosch Group are based in Karnataka.

Berns did not specify investments for the second phase of the Bidadi plant but said it would be completed by 2018.

Karnataka has lost out on big-ticket projects in the past due to delays in land acquisition and government approvals. Two-wheeler maker Hero MotorCorp decided against investing in Karnataka, choosing instead to invest Rs2200 crore in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh for a factory.

In 2013, Korean steelmaker Posco had scrapped its plans to build a $5.3 billion, six million tonnes per annum steel plant in the state due to delays in land acquisition and protests by farmers. E-commerce firm Amazon.in set up its warehouse in Telengana as it was unable to resolve tax disputes with the Karnataka government.

Since then, the Karnataka government has started to reach out to corporations to address their concerns.

“We have got a lot of support from the government and also from the bureaucrats. Nevertheless, there have been some delays in the past which I addressed and the government has taken the message in a very positive way and this is helping us further and we appreciate this additional support,” Berns said.

The existing facility in Adugodi will be converted into a technology centre, Berns said.

The company also said it would be looking to invest in start-ups.

“Bangalore being the startup capital of India, we are in touch with many startups here and we are looking into this opportunity. We don’t have any fund size but are handling it flexibly. We do not say how much money we want to spend but we look at opportunities,” said Peter Tyroller, member, board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH.

The company said it was looking at start-ups focusing on Internet of Things (IOT) which can be applied to mobility, energy and smart homes. Bosch has nearly 12,000 employees in R&D.

On its car and two-wheeler automation plans, Berns said the firm was working on a global level on the three trends of automated, connected and electrified. “The question is when is this going to come in India. In case of the automated in India, we do not see full automatic driving very soon because of traffic conditions here but we do see partial automatic driving such as emergency braking, automatic cruise control or automatic parking, which has a good market potential in India.”

Tyroller said that automatic driving in two wheelers was not yet planned but said that technology such as electronic engine management systems can be connected to smartphones and utilised to adapt to different driving conditions and control functions.