Interview with Kevin Flynn and Gurpratap Boparai

President & Managing Director, FCA India / CEO, Fiat India Automobiles Pvt Ltd.

Date: 17 Apr 2017 | Author: P.Tharyan, Editor, Motown India
Kevin Flynn (R) and Gurpratap Boparai

Since you will be manufacturing the Jeep Compass in India, besides countries like Mexico, Brazil and China, does it mean you will be expecting large volumes for this product?

Kevin Flynn (KF): The exciting thing about this product is the fact that we are part of a global programme.  The interesting thing is that this is not a car that was developed for India and that we are looking at opportunities to export it elsewhere. This is a global car built to global standards. There is consistency across the different manufacturing plants around the world. Our responsibility to the world would be the right hand drive markets. So we shall be manufacturing this car for consumption in India but also very developed right hand markets. This is great news for India because it means Indian consumers are not getting a car that is engineered for India, they are getting a global car which is part of the global programme.  The car is phenomenal.   It exceeds our expectations and it will really appeal to the Indian consumer and the real credibility is that we shall be exporting it to very developed markets across the globe.

Can you tell us bit about the Ranjangaon plant where the Jeep Compass is being manufactured since it is 50.50 jointly owned by Fiat and Tata Motors?

Gurpratap Boparai (GB):  It is absolutely one of the finest automobile plants that is there in India and also globally. I say this with a lot of confidence because we have had a lot of visitors from abroad who have seen some of the best facilities globally and they rate this as one of the best. Having said that we have done a lot of investment in this facility for this product and we set up a new body shop, we have upgraded our assembly line, we have upgraded our paint shop and we are ready now to make world class products. That’s not to say that our current products are not world class. The investment have been made by the joint venture partners. 

When it comes to the Jeep Compass, would it have its own dedicated assembly line or would it be made along with the other products being made which includes that of Fiat and Tata?

GB: We have a common assembly line that will continue to manufacture multiple products. Having a dedicated assembly is not an efficient way of doing things. The plant has a capacity to make 160,000 units per annum. We are currently at 40pc utilisation levels.

The Jeep Compass will be powered by a 1.4 litre petrol engine and a 2 litre diesel engine. Are these engines going to be made here at this plant?

GB: The diesel engine will be made here at the plant.

KF: We have obviously got powertrains that are important for Indian application that are going to fit very well with what the consumers are looking for in the Indian market. But obviously we will be exporting and we need to accommodate those external markets as well. The nice thing about this product is that we have got a nice portfolio of componentry within the plant which is also going to allow us to move the whole project forward and dig into a broader option list.

This car is a real key piece in Jeep’s global growth. We are going live; Brazil has gone live, we have the other markets going live, so it’s a global onslaught in some respect.  Still early days but I have got to say the integrity of the car, the depth of the car, the way the whole thing has been put together is that it is a capable car. I think the appeal is going to be huge. We are going to see significant growth of the Jeep Compass in all the markets.

India continues to be a price sensitive market and prices can only be contained if there is a huge level of localisation. Has that happened?

KF: We have worked hard on that and undoubtedly that has helped us. We maximised whatever opportunities were available within the Indian capabilities. I think this project for us is a huge accolade for Indian manufacturing. It is also a huge accolade for us as part of FCA organisation.  We have been entrusted with right hand drive production of the cars. Locally we understand the pricing sensitivity; I believe we have got it right. I think the package we have put together and where we will be positioning the car, I think it will meet with real appeal to the Indian consumer. 

Mr Kevin Flynn

With the Jeep Compass, does it mean that Jeep as a brand will see the making of a lot more affordable vehicle? I am assuming here that the Compass will also be priced very affordable?

KF: We made it clear when we came in with the CBU, we understood that with the duty imposed on them of around 180pc, we knew these cars would be brand leaders. That’s not where the bulk is going to be. It was always about bringing a local product. The beauty is that it is not a car we developed for the Indian market, it’s a global car and that is where the credibility of Jeep is coming through. It is a 75-year-old iconic brand that we have now brought to India and part of that process is a locally manufactured car to global standards. I believe that we can have the price right; I think we can make Jeep attainable by this market and we are going to find ourselves a position with great appeal and great positioning.

Both Fiat and Jeep are two strong brands. Fiat has been struggling in India for quite some time though it’s a brand everybody recalls very fast, and now with Jeep coming in does it mean the focus shifts there or does it mean you will be taking the family together?  

KF: There are two elements to it. The chapter today and in a new book is the Jeep. But that does not take anything away from us what we are with Fiat. Undoubtedly the positive element in what we are doing preparing ourselves in getting ready with Jeep will have a very positive effect on Fiat. Jeep will put a very positive spin on what we are and how we are seen in this country.

 

Mr Gurpratap Boparai

Tags FCA India Fiat India Automobiles Pvt Ltd Jeep Compass Kevin Flynn Gurpratap Boparai Motown India


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Kevin Flynn and Gurpratap Boparai
Date - 17 Apr 2017

President & Managing Director, FCA India / CEO, Fiat India Automobiles Pvt Ltd.