Motor vehicle manufacturing is a highly complex industry that encompasses the production and distribution of passenger cars, motorcycles and scooters, three-wheeler vehicles, tractors and other agricultural vehicles and equipment, as well as vehicles used in the construction and mining sectors. The branded manufacturers that assemble finished vehicles tend to represent firms at the head of vast global production networks, with varying levels of global sourcing of raw materials, components and industry services. These are the auto industry's global lead firms, known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in industry parlance. This book focuses on those firms engaged in the production of passenger cars and two-wheelers as well as some commercial vehicles and three-wheeler models.
The global production networks of these OEMs have largely been imposed and entrenched in key Indian manufacturing regions since the early 1980s, transforming commercial relations between foreign and local producers and work organisation within firms. The intersection between these global production networks and regional social structures of accumulation predicated upon low-wage, precarious and informal work helps to explain why Indian auto firms have not reproduced ‘high road’ labour standards and employment relations (Chapter 1).
This chapter sets the scene for this discussion by outlining the key OEMs and key regions of Indian auto manufacturing, including the configuration of key OEMs’ global production networks. This chapter represents the ‘who, what and where’ of the book by providing context for the discussion of industrial, social and political conflict in the ensuing chapters. In doing so, it shows how the domestic industry has been transformed by global production networks in an era of economic openness and liberalisation.
The rapid growth of the auto industry is one of several indicators of India's social and economic transformation over the past three decades. In 2014–15, the auto industry had a gross turnover of US$58.9 billion (SIAM, 2016). Although this was below its peak of US$67.6 billion in 2012–13, India is currently the world's sixth largest producer of passenger cars and commercial vehicles (Table 2.1). Although well behind China's production volumes, it compares favourably with other major passenger car producers like Germany, the United States and South Korea. After China, India also had the second-fastest growing automotive output of the top 10 producers from 2000 to 2014, although its growth recently fell behind the major North American producing regions (Table 2.2).
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