German automaker BMW AG on Thursday opened its first manufacturing plant in India and rolled out the 3-series sedan for one of the world's fastest growing car markets, a news report said.
The plant near the southern Indian city of Chennai, built with an investment of EUR20 million (US$26 million), will also roll out the 5-series sedan by June, the Press Trust of India reported.
BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said the plant would be upgraded in the future as the Indian market grows further, the report said. Moving forward, it may even house a research and development facility and serve as a sourcing center for global operations, Reithofer told reporters after opening the plant.
"The Indian automobile market offers big opportunities for growth. Opening this plant underpins our long term route to profitable growth," he said, according to the PTI report.
The plant near Chennai has a capacity to manufacture 1,700 units in a year.
The 3-series sedan, rolled out Thursday, will cost 2.7 million rupees (US$61,000, EUR45,700), while the 5-series sedan is expected to cost between 3.7 million rupees (US$84,000, EUR62,900) and 4.2 million rupees (US$95,500, EUR71,500), the report said.
BMW aims to sell 1,200 units in the first year of the plant's operation, it said.
Global automakers have been stepping up efforts to increase their presence in India, where the economy is growing close 9 percent annually and demand for cars is strong, thanks to rising middle class incomes and easier access to loans.
Last month, Japan's Nissan Motor joined France's Renault SA's plan to build a US$900 million car plant in southern India in collaboration with local automaker Mahindra & Mahindra.
Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Corp. and South Korea's Hyundai Motors Co., which already have factories here, are either adding new plants or ramping up capacity.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969