The FCA Group operates over 100 manufacturing facilities and over 40 R&D centres. Its automotive brands include Chrysler, Fiat Professional, Jeep and Maserati. Karim Lalani, a Mumbai University electronics engineering graduate who joined Chrysler in 1999 and then became part of the Fiat-Chrysler merged entity, heads the India IT global inhouse centres.
The FCA facility will be coming up at the Salarpuria Knowledge City at Raidurg in Hyderabad’s IT hub. “Fiat Chrysler is setting up a centre in Hyderabad on the lines of the technology centre set up by German automotive giant ZF in the city.
A formal announcement will follow later this month,” sources told TOI. An email sent to FCA did not elicit a response.
India is emerging as an epicentre for auto engineering research and development (ER&D). The automotive world is moving towards connected vehicles, autonomous driving and electrification, and centres in India are involved deeply in this work. Automotive is one of the fastest growing areas in the $31-billion Indian ER&D space, according to a report by Nasscom and Everest Group.
Venkat Shastry, partner in executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, said India is poised to become a key player in the automotive landscape, with digital engineering emerging as the new growth engine. “The auto industry is experiencing unprecedented disruption with software driving the shift. The talent playbook for building a future in which autonomous and electric cars are a new reality requires cross-functional technical talent with a sound knowledge in physics and math as much as AI/ML and data sciences. The skills will align to the tech stack with software at the heart of it and the differentiators sit at the top-end of the stack,” he said.
Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda motorcycles and a slew of automotive component makers have tech centres in India. Manu Saale, MD of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India, said a lot of the programming work and software that goes into the company’s vehicles for the next generation of connected cars and autonomous driving is being done out of the Bengaluru centre. “This has been made possible due to the availability of digital talent,” he said.
Within the connected vehicles ecosystem, automakers are joining hands with Car Connectivity Consortium, a cross-industry organization advancing global technologies for smartphone-to-car connectivity solutions. There’s extensive research on autonomous vehicles as automakers have automated cruise control, lane keeping, and parking assistance. But some are gunning for the next level of autonomous features. Volvo, for instance, has partnered with lidar sensor maker Luminar whose technology accurately detects where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity. Automakers are also exploring electric and hybrid powertrains and battery development to accelerate the developments in the EV landscape.