France’s Peugeot upbeat about return to India

MUMBAI, September 1, 2011 (AFP) – French auto giant PSA Peugeot Citroen on Thursday signalled its return to India, announcing a new assembly plant in the west of the country as part of wider plans to sell more cars outside Europe. Europe’s second-largest car maker said it had signed a deal with the state government of Gujarat to build a $928-million (650-million-euro) factory at Sanand capable of turning out an initial 170,000 vehicles a year.

Some 5,000 new jobs are expected to be created at the 243-hectare (600-acre) site, which will also house an engine and gear box manufacturing facility, with the first cars expected off the production line in two years’ time.

Peugeot spokesman Marc Bocque said the company was now better placed to gain a foothold in India than in the 1990s, when it embarked on a joint venture with the domestic Premier Automobiles Ltd that was plagued by labour issues.

“We’re coming alone. That’s the first point,” he told AFP. “Otherwise, since then we have gained huge experience in the international market. We have developed in Eastern Europe, Russia and China.

“Our experience is much different from what it was at the time. I believe this will certainly be a strong asset for our future