There is a real challenge out there as the Automotive Industry 'globalises' - experts in a number of disciplines from Sales to Design, Engineering to Manufacturing are having to talk to each other across continents. This brings so many challenges, both for the business and the individual. Companies like Nissan and Renault have important alliances in place, and most automotive manufacturers are present in China, working with local industries.
English is the global language of the Automotive Industry
There are ever increasing demands on Automotive executives:
International Companies & Alliances
Shared, Time-pressured Development programmes
International Meetings - face to face, on the phone, even on TV
International Communications - e-mails, letters, video conferencing
Global Experts in Design, Sales, Engineering, Manufacturing, Finance who have challenges when trying to get their expertise across.
The Personal Challenge
Imaging the difficulties posed by the following examples:
1. "He's wrong!" - but how do I tell him that politely?
2. "That's not the best way" - but how do I tell them what is the best way in terms that they will understand and without offending them?
3. "I'm thirsty" - but how do I ask for a drink around here?
4. "I'd really like to see the way that he calculated that" - but how do I ask him?
5. "I don't want to eat here, I've heard it's no good!" - but how do I let them know?
6. "That's a lousy deal!" - but how do we discuss this in the kind of detail I want to go into??
7. "I really want to understand what makes this colleague / customer 'tick' - it would make this project / negotiation much easier" - but I'm stuck for words! English is too difficult!
The Automotive giants and their suppliers need to get their experts 'up to speed', NOW. International alliances and cooperation means more travel, more meetings and more and more shared projects and platforms. There are various options available to employers to enhance their employees' skills in English, especially to those in Japan, Korea and China. The best option has to be one-to-one tuition in the UK, Australia or the US. Good training (which can also be carried out in-house, or in a language school either 'at home' or abroad) enables international experts to communicate easily and with confidence, so that a car-makers' ideas and agenda are definitely put forward.
Too often during my career in the industry I have watched Japanese colleagues struggling to communicate their point of view (and therefore that of their employers!) to people from very foreign cultures. My favourite example of this is sitting in a car in the UK, next to a Turkish gentleman, and hearing one half of a conversation he was having with a Vietnamese gentleman who was speaking from his desk in France where he works for a German company - all about a project for a French customer for parts that would be manufactured in Turkey for a Romanian factory! All of this was in ENGLISH!
During early 60s & 70s, automobiles came largely in twos.
In scooters, you had a Lambretta or a Vespa.
In motorcycles, you had a Bullet or a Java.
In cars, you had to choose between an Ambassador and a Fiat.
In trucks, it was either an Ashok Leyland or a Tata.
In tractors, it was between a Swaraj and a Mahindra.
This situation reflected the India of yester years. Economic reforms and deregulation have transformed that scene. Automobile industry has written a new inspirational tale. It is a tale of exciting multiplicity, unparalleled growth and amusing consumer experience - all within a few years. India has already become one of the fastest growing automobile markets in the world. This is a tribute to leaders and managers in the industry and, equally to policy planners. The automobile industry has the opportunity to go beyond this remarkable achievement. It is standing on the doorsteps of a quantum leap.
The Indian automobile industry is going through a technological change where each firm is engaged in changing its processes and technologies to maintain the competitive advantage and provide customers with the optimized products and services. Starting from the two wheelers, trucks, and tractors to the multi utility vehicles, commercial vehicles and the luxury vehicles, the Indian automobile industry has achieved splendid achievement in the recent years.
"The opportunity is staring in your face. It comes only once. If you miss it, you will not get it again"
On the canvas of the Indian economy, auto industry maintains a high-flying place. Due to its deep frontward and rearward linkages with several key segments of the economy, automobile industry has a strong multiplier effect and is capable of being the driver of economic growth. A sound transportation system plays an essential role in the country's rapid economic and industrial development. The well-developed Indian automotive industry skillfully fulfils this catalytic role by producing a wide variety of vehicles: passenger cars, light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles, multi-utility vehicles such as jeeps, scooters, motorcycles, mopeds, three wheelers, tractors etc.
The automotive sector is one of the core industries of the Indian economy, whose prospect is reflective of the economic resilience of the country. Continuous economic liberalization over the years by the government of India has resulted in making India as one of the prime business destination for many global automotive players. The automotive sector in India is growing at around 18 per cent per annum.
"The auto industry is just a multiplier, a driver for employment, for investment, for technology"
The Indian automotive industry started its new journey from 1991 with delicensing of the sector and subsequent opening up for 100 per cent FDI through automatic route. Since then almost all the global majors have set up their facilities in India taking the production of vehicle from 2 million in 1991 to 9.7 million in 2006 (nearly 7 per cent of global automobiles production and 2.4 per cent of four wheeler production).
The cumulative annual growth rate of production of the automotive industry from the year 2000-2001 to 2005-2006 was 17 per cent. The cumulative annual growth rate of exports during the period 2000-01 to 2005-06 was 32.92 per cent. The production of the automotive industry is expected to achieve a growth rate of over 20 per cent in 2006-07 and about 15 per cent in 2007-08. The export during the same period is expected to grow over 20 per cent.
The automobile sector has been contributing its share to the shining economic performance of India in the recent years. With the Indian middle class earning higher per capita income, more people are ready to own private vehicles including cars and two-wheelers. Product movements and manned services have boosted in the sales of medium and sized commercial vehicles for passenger and goods transport.
Side by side with fresh vehicle sales growth, the automotive components sector has witnessed big growth. The domestic auto components consumption has crossed rupees 9000 crore and an export of one half size of this figure.
Eye-Catching FDI Destination - INDIA!
India is on the peak of the Foreign Direct Investment wave. FDI flows into India trebled from $6 billion in 2004-05 to $19 billion in 2006-07 and are expected to quadruple to $25 billion in 2007-08. By AT Kearney's FDI Confidence Index 2006, India is the second most attractive FDI destination after China, pushing the US to the third position. It is commonly believed that soon India will catch up with China. This may also happen as China attempts to cool the economy and its protectionism measures that are eclipsing the Middle Kingdom's attractiveness. With rising wages and high land prices in the eastern regions, China may be losing its edge as a low-cost manufacturing hub. India seems to be the natural choice.
India is up-and-coming a significant manufacturer, especially of electrical and electronic equipment, automobiles and auto-parts. During 2000-2005 of the total FDI inflow, electrical and electronic (including computer software) and automobile accounted for 13.7 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively.