Aiming to strengthen its R&D operations, Fiat India Automobiles on Thursday said that it plans to double the headcount to 200 by next year.

“We have 100 people working in the R&D department. We want to double the number by next year,” Fiat India Automobiles Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Kapoor said here.

Mr. Kapoor said that though the main job of the R&D team was confined to vehicle testing and looking at localisation, in the next five-year horizon, the R&D team would have a lot of activities for them.

“The R&D team now works for the Indian opeartion only but it has a dream to take part in the worldwide initiatives of the parent company,” he said declining to divulge the investment that the company would make to step up operations.

Mr. Kapoor said that it took a lot of time to create and develop the R&D team as it was a step-by-step process.

Fiat India Automobiles, he said, was on track to reach upto 80 per cent localisation for Grande Punto by March next year from 75 per cent now. It has already been making Linea with 85 per cent local content.

Fiat India Automobiles targets to export 3,000-3,200 Lineas to South Africa in the next 12 months and would start exporting Grande Punto to that country as well. Palio is already being exported.

The company would also look for neighbouring countries to export its vehicles.

Mr. Kapoor said that the company expects higher sales in the current month and hoped that the trend would continue in the next month as well.

“The outlook for the car sector is buoyant. There is a lot of competition in the industry, but everybody is hoping to have good numbers,” he said.

Keywords: FIATStrengthening R&D

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