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Posted at: Jun 13, 2018, 12:50 AM; last updated: Jun 13, 2018, 12:50 AM (IST)AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY

Get into top gear

Usha Albuquerque

The nation is on the move, and that too, at a furious pace —  that’s what it would seem to be from the increasing number of promotions of cars and bikes! But this does not come as a surprise, as the automotive industry in India has been growing at a healthy pace, unlike in most other countries, making it one of the largest automotive markets in the world. Asian, European and US automakers are hitching their wagons to the Indian lodestar. Besides Maruti and Hyundai, which account for more than half the vehicle sales for their parent companies, India is joint No. 1 in the Asia Pacific region for Honda in car sales, the second largest manufacturing base in Asia for US- based Ford Motors, and also among the top 10 markets for France’s Renault. 

The automotive industry is one of the key drivers of India’s economy, accounting for around 4 per cent of India’s GDP and over 200,000 jobs. This is expected to grow with employment opportunities for all those involved, including auto engineers, designers, technicians, sales and marketing, auto ancilliary production and many others. So, if you are looking to zoom ahead on the fast lane here are some possible options in the automotive industry:

Automobile design

The automobile industry has great scope for qualified and trained automobile designers in India. Automobile designers are involved in the development of the appearance, and to some extent, the ergonomics, of all vehicles, whether cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, coaches, and vans keeping in mind the changing cultural aesthetics and modern design trends. 

The functional design and development of a modern motor vehicle is typically done by a large team from many different disciplines, including automobile engineers. The scope for auto design is growing in India, as more and more auto companies in India have set up studios and foreign companies are hiring Indian designers to modify their (foreign) car designs to suit Indian tastes.

Auto design courses are offered through many programmes, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees in auto/car design, industrial design, vehicle design, mechanical engineering and transportation design. Some schools offer car design classes in postgraduate certificate programmes or full certificate programmes in the field. 

Auto marketing and sales

Car marketing and sales is a good career option for those who enjoy communicating with people. A car salesman is responsible for showing and selling automobiles to people who visit a car dealership. They work for automobile dealerships that specialise in specific brands and models of cars and use their persuasive skills to engage with prospective customers about the kind of make, model and price range of the cars, their features and pricing structures. This could also involve discussing trade-in

value, discounts and rebates, special offers, financing options and lease-versus-own options.

If you are good with money matters, you can handle the finance and insurance department of a car dealership working with sales staff, management and lenders and with people looking to buy a new car who will need financing and insurance in order to get it. 

Much of auto sales covers the certified pre-owned car market. This differs from the regular second hand car sales market in that it includes cars that have been inspected, refurbished, and certified by a manufacturer or other certifying authority. Such sales also typically include an extended warranty, special financing, and additional benefits.

Another off shoot of the auto sales market is the growing luxury car market, mainly of imported cars, which has been increasing with the growing Indian economy, particularly among  used/ pre-owned luxury cars. The economical prices of pre-owned luxury cars has helped grow this market, as it provides a multitude of quality choices for people who want to upgrade their vehicles more frequently. 

All marketing jobs require a basic commerce or management degree with some additional marketing training.

Auto parts manufacturing

The big auto manufacturers do produce some of their own parts for the vehicles, but they can’t  produce every part and component that goes into a new vehicle. Auto-parts manufacturing companies manufacture practically everything that may get replaced after the purchase of a vehicle, from door handles, air filters, oil filters and replacement lights to tires, hoses, belts, and seats.

The auto parts manufacturing industry hires engineers from several disciplines including, mechanical, electronics, electrical, production and others.

Growth in hiring

There is no doubt that the automobile industry in India, the 10th largest in the world, is on the roll, as more and more foreign auto manufacturing companies  are starting their production plants in India looking to bag a share in the growing Indian market. The Government of India encourages foreign investment in the automobile sector and allows 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route, as it aims to make automobile manufacturing the main driver of the Make in India initiative. This imitative is likely to see huge investments in the next couple of years, General Motors plans to increase the capacity of its plant with over a billion dollars by 2020.

US-based car maker Chrysler plans to invest Rs 3,500 crore, to manufacture Jeep Grand Cherokee model, Mercedes Benz has decided to manufacture the GLA entry SUV in India.

BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) has announced it will be procuring components from seven India-based auto parts makers, indicating that despite the major drop in manufacturing in India, and slack years in the past, the Indian auto industry is set to witness a revival in 2018-19. The domestic auto industry is, therefore, likely to witness a growth in hiring, with a report indicating that the increase could be as high as 8-12 per cent. 

Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors, India's top two vehicle makers, will together add as many as 4,500 employees this year to deal with their growing product portfolio and sales. This is good news for all those looking to join the automobile sector — whether in R & D, design and development, marketing or in the automated technologies. 

New avenues

This industry is changing gears very fast with the emergence of new generation technologies and a consequent demand for a new set of skills from the auto workforce. According to estimates by experts, including Nasscom, the auto sector, which currently has 70,000 engineers, is likely to employ about 1,10,000 engineers by 2020.

However, the increasing demand for engineers will be for those with enhanced skills in automation technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive solutions and machine learning, according to the report by FICCI-Nasscom and EY. 

Auto companies are increasingly deploying smart robots with artificial intelligence capabilities that are able to adapt, communicate and interact with each other and with humans. In fact, in the domestic automotive industry, robots have enabled almost 70 to 100 per cent automation in weld shops, press shops, cast shops and paint shops and are further penetrating into assembly operations to enable higher degree of automation and lower costs for the manufacturer. It is to be expected that in the next five years, the potential new job roles in the automotive sector will include automobile analytics engineers, 3D printing technician, machine learning based vehicle cyber security expert and sustainability integration experts, with new skill sets required in design, operation as well as other elements of the auto value chain. 

Another new role for automobile engineers will be in the area of research and development (R&D), as the country gears up for new green technologies, electric vehicles and automation. Maruti Suzuki in India is set to become Suzuki’s first R&D centre outside Japan. Mercedes Benz, Ford, General Motors are also spending heavily in developing R&D in India, while Tata and Mahindra already have fully functional R&D divisions.

In fact, there has been a thrust towards developing vehicles powered by alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, which would be less harmful to  environment than the conventional internal combustion engine vehicles currently running on gasoline or diesel.  The government plans to promote eco-friendly cars in the country-i.e. CNG-based vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and electric vehicles-and also to make mandatory 5 per cent ethanol blending in petrol, and has formulated a Scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India(FAME), to encourage the progressive introduction of reliable, affordable, and efficient electric and hybrid vehicles into the country.

Automobile engineers

For most youngsters, an automobile engineer is possibly the most coveted of jobs — dealing as it does with designing, development, and manufacturing of all vehicles including cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks, etc. It involves handling the mechanical, electrical, electronic, software and safety elements of a vehicle from the initial vehicle designs through to the final production stages. The work also includes designing new models, keeping in view their performance, capacity, durability, beauty and cost of both manufacture and maintenance. A degree in automobile or mechanical engineering is required for a job as an automobile engineer, although candidates with other engineering disciplines such as electrical, electronics, production engineering can also work in this sector.

Mechanical and Auto engineers from B-level engineering colleges and technical institutes can get jobs working on the assembly line. Most assembly line positions require a knowledge of engineering, computers and robotic manufacturing.

Scope

Increasing employment opportunities are indicated in the automotive industry which comprises the production of commercial vehicles, passenger cars, three & two-wheelers. 

Despite a slack in the past couple of years, production of passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, three wheelers and two wheelers grew at 14.4 per cent between April-February 2017-18. Sales of two-wheelers, which occupy an 80 per cent share of the automobile market, grew by over 10 per cent in the year on improved demand for cheaper motorcycles from rural and semi-urban markets, automobile exports from India increased 15.8 per cent during the same period, and two and three-wheelers exports increased 20.30 per cent.

So if you wish to get onto this fast track you know now how to maneuver your career. 

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