The news out of India's appliance industry in 2006 was mostly about Videocon and its Electrolux/Daewoo acquisitions. But there was much more happening in the industry in India, including growing production, growing consumption and growing international trade.
Whirlpool Plans Big Growth in India
In April, Whirlpool of India (New Delhi) told Sify Business it planned to invest U.S. $15 million to $20 million in 2006 and 2007 in its manufacturing facilities in Faridabad, Pune and Pondicherry. Whirlpool planned to increase its turnover by 20 percent in 2006 compared to 2005, and it was launching new washing machines, JetChef microwave ovens and Fusion and Delight refrigerators to entice Indian consumers.
India's Imports and Exports Surge
Asian Research was reporting India's exports surged by 29.59 percent in May 2006 to U.S. $9.35 billion compared to $7.22 billion in the same month last year. However, the trade deficit widened to $8.08 billion in the first 2 months of this financial year. Imports grew at 21.67 percent to $13.19 billion as against $10.84 billion in May 2005, while trade deficit grew 12.06 percent to $8.08 billion in April to May 2006. Exports during April to May 2006 rose 28.4 percent to $17.7 billion, while imports increased 22.79 percent to $25.78 billion.
Maharaja Buys Kelvinator's Gems Brand
Delhi, India-based appliance maker Maharaja Appliances Ltd. said in January it had acquired Kelvinator’s Gem brand as part of its plans to enter the white goods segment. It planned to launch TVs, refrigerators and microwave ovens under the Gem brand name during 2006.
Godrej and Boyce Expand
But Indian appliance maker Godrej and Boyce was on the move, too. The company started the year with the launch of a new top-loading washing machine with a new cleaning technology called Turbobrush, to clean clothes with minimal tangling and resulting, the company said, in longer-lasting clothing.
In September, Godrej and Boyce announced plans to double the capacity of its frost-free refrigerator manufacturing plant in Shirwal, near Pune. The new capacity will come on-line in 2007.
India Begins Labeling Appliances
2006 marked India's first foray into appliance labeling. The program launched in July was voluntary and applied only to frost-free refrigerators and tubular fluorescent lamps at the outset. Refrigerators received a star rating of energy efficiency, with a 5-star fridge being the most energy-efficient.
But, month-by-month, the program expanded, until by year's end it had grown in scope to include direct-cool refrigerators, electric motors, air-conditioners, and ceiling fans.
The refrigerator program is designed with increasingly stringent energy efficiency requirements. The first level of efficiency requirements lasts through Dec. 31, 2008. The second level of efficiency requirements lasts from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2011. The third level of energy efficiency requirements lasts from Jan. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2014. A refrigerator qualifying as a 5-star efficiency appliance in 2006, for example, will only qualify for a 2-star rating in 2012.
John Deere Technology Center - India Opens
Outdoor power equipment maker Deere & Company (Moline, Illinois, U.S.) inaugurated the John Deere Technology Center - India located in Magarpatta City, Pune. The center will provide services in the areas of information technology, engineering, supply management, embedded systems, and technical authoring for the company's operations worldwide. The Technology Center has about 200 employees and is intended to contribute towards helping John Deere's provide innovative products and services. Deere already has John Deere Equipment Private Limited, in Sanaswadi, near Pune, making the familiar green and yellow John Deere tractors for customers in India and other countries.
Dell to Double Indian Headcount
Dell Inc., said in March it plans to double its headcount in India over 3 years. "India produces over 200,000 engineers and we see that as an asset for our hardware and software activities," Chairman Michael Dell said.
Dell said its staff numbers in India would rise to 20,000 over the next 3 years from about 10,000 now. Dell has set up huge business process outsourcing units to tap India's pool of low-cost English-speaking workers.
GE Announces Infrastructure Investment in India
GE may get the honors for the most dramatic resource allocation to this up-and-coming market when chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt announced a U.S. $250 million investment in infrastructure and healthcare projects in India and said that GE intends to dramatically expand its industrial and financial presence in the country.
LG Makes DVDs
In June, LG started up production at its new optical drive products facility in Ranjangaon, Pune in India. The startup LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd. is a subsidiary of LG Electronics of South Korea, the first company making DVD writers in India. The facility is said to be the second biggest in Asia, with an output capacity of 600,000 units per month. LG intends for the Pune plant to serve as an export hub, primarily serving European markets. LG also makes TVs, aid-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens, color monitors, and telephones in Pune.
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