Tata Motors, which is India’s largest automaker and owns Jaguar Land Rover, is also hoping to claw back domestic market share.
VW and Tata have signed a memorandum of understanding on a partnership they hope will potentially lead to Tata Motors launching new vehicles by 2019.
Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek has put in place a restructuring program to help build up the company’s lost sales for passenger and commercial vehicles by improving efficiencies, cutting production delays and building economies of scale.
Guenter Butschek said: “We strongly believe that both the companies, by working together, can leverage from each other’s strengths to create synergies and develop smart innovative solutions for the Indian and overseas market.”
VW is investing in self-drive vehicles and greener technology such as electric cars and would like greater familiarity with the Indian market.
Volkswagen AG CEO Matthias Müller said: “By offering the appropriate products, we intend to achieve sustainable and profitable growth in very different parts of the world.”
A previous attempt by VW to expand into emerging markets through an alliance with Suzuki Motor Corp ended in 2015, following bitter disagreements.
Automakers are attempting to win a greater share of expanding emerging markets through the sale of budget cars, which in turn increase familiarity of their brand.
According to Global NCAP, five of India’s most popular small cars have failed crash tests.
The tests by Global NCAP showed that if involved in a crash, fatalities or serious injuries could result.
Among the cars tested was India’s talismanic Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, as well as models made in India by Ford, Volkswagen and Hyundai.
The cars were apparently stripped of safety features to make them cheaper for Indian buyers, correspondents say.
The five models accounted for 20% of all sales in the country last year. Estimates say that about 80% of the cars sold in India have price tags of under $8,000.
“It’s worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America,” said the head of NCAP Global, Max Mosley, the former chief of international motorsport.
Those car manufacturers who have spoken out since the safety tests have insisted that safety is of paramount importance and that they will be reviewing the NCAP’s test results.
The car safety watchdog put five models through crash tests, including the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, the Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo.
India Hyundai i10 scores zero stars in Global NCAP crash tests
None of these entry-level cars sold in India are fitted with air bags. They also lack the safety standards that the same models have when sold in North America and Europe, according to the watchdog.
“Poor structural integrity and the absence of airbags are putting the lives of Indian consumers at risk. They have a right to know how safe their vehicles are and to expect the same basic levels of safety as standard as customers in other part of the world,” Max Mosley added.
As a result of the tests, Volkswagen has withdrawn its Polo model without airbags.
Volkswagen also said the airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, would become standard from 1 February along with a 2.7% price increase to offset the costs, the Associated Press reports.
“We are proud to be leading the cause of driver safety,” Arvind Saxena told AP.
Tata has said it is looking at the Nano’s structure for ways to improve its strength, having already added power steering and other features, AP adds.
India also has more road accident deaths than any other country – put down to bad roads, poor driving but also it appears unsafe cars.
Every year, tens of thousands of people are killed on the country’s roads and the numbers have been rising steadily – nearly 140,000 people were killed in 2012, according to the government’s National Crime Records Bureau.
According to NCAP, it is estimated that 17% of these deaths are of car passengers.
Tata Motors’ Managing Director Karl Slym apparently killed himself when he fell from the 22nd floor of a Bangkok hotel on Sunday, Thai police say.
The British executive was in Thailand to attend a board meeting of the company’s local affiliate.
Investigators believe Karl Slym may have taken his own life because of a note left in his room referring to domestic problems.
Police said it was being analyzed to confirm Karl Slym wrote it.
Thai police said they were called to the Shangri-La hotel around 07:45 a.m. on Sunday, after staff found Karl Slym’s body on the fourth floor, which juts out above lower storeys of the luxury complex.
Tata Motors’ Managing Director Karl Slym apparently killed himself when he fell from the 22nd floor of Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok
They then woke up Karl Slym’s wife, who seemed shocked, they said. The couple had been married for about 30 years and did not have any children.
In a statement, Company Chairman Cyprus P. Mistry paid tribute to Karl Slym, describing him as “a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry”.
Aged 51, Karl Slym ran led the automaker’s operations in India and international markets including South Korea, Thailand and South Africa.
He was not responsible for the Jaguar and Land Rover luxury unit that Tata Motors acquired in 2008.
Karl Slym, who was from Derby, England, had worked for Toyota in the UK, and then General Motors in India and China.
He had been managing director of Tata Motors, part of the giant Tata Group, since being hired in October 2012 to revive Tata’s flagging sales in India.
Following news of Karl Slym’s death, Tata Motors stock closed down 6% at 347.8 rupees.
Police official Somyot Boonyakaew said investigators “didn’t find any sign of a struggle” in the room Karl Slym was sharing with his wife in the Shangri-La Hotel.
“We found a window open. The window was very small so it was not possible that he would have slipped,” he told Reuters news agency.
“He would have had to climb through the window to fall out because he was a big man. From my initial investigation, we believe he jumped.”
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