Indian auto parts makers face job losses

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Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

In Coimbatore, a city that manufactured one of India’s first homemade diesel engines, K. Rajesh finds himself at a crossroads as automakers rush to produce more electric vehicles (EVs).

The boss of a local auto-component manufacturing firm in southern Tamil Nadu state, Rajesh is part of a supply chain that industry experts say will be shaken up as India accelerates its transition to EVs, to help meet its climate goals.

“For small players like me, the rise of EVs means business will go down,” said Rajesh, who runs Autotech Engineers, a factory that makes parts for two-wheelers.

“We are aware that the business will change, but right now I am sticking to what I know and have been doing for the last 20 years – replicating design drawings sent by companies into perfect parts. The future, however, is uncertain,” he added.

His voice echoes the concerns of others in India’s small and medium-sized auto-component industry, whose workforce is estimated at about 5 million. Millions more are employed in informal repairs and maintenance.

In a first, the Tamil Nadu state government initiated a mapping of this supply chain last month, in an effort to understand the impacts on companies and their workers of the transition to making cleaner cars and scooters.

“We know for a fact that there will be a serious loss of business,” said V. Arun Roy, secretary of the Tamil Nadu department for medium, small and micro enterprises, adding that they will have to be prepared for the hit.

“At present, there is not enough information on who and how many will be impacted. Mapping this data is essential to plan for the EV transition, which is inevitable,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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