Vikram Kirloskar - The man who brought Toyota to Karnataka

Vikram Kirloskar brought global auto giant Toyota to Karnataka in 1997, when the State wasn’t yet a big name in the global business arena

November 30, 2022 02:23 pm | Updated 04:00 pm IST - Bengaluru

A file photo of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Vice Chairman Vikram Kirloskar addressing the Global Investors’ Meet - Invest Karnataka 2022, in Bengaluru. Vikram Kirloskar died on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, at the age of 64.

A file photo of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Vice Chairman Vikram Kirloskar addressing the Global Investors’ Meet - Invest Karnataka 2022, in Bengaluru. Vikram Kirloskar died on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, at the age of 64. | Photo Credit: PTI

Way back in 1997, when Karnataka wasn’t yet a big spot on the global business map, auto major Toyota set up a manufacturing facility at Bidadi, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. The man who was instrumental in bringing the Japanese automaker to Karnataka was Vikram Kirloskar who passed away on November 29.

The initial efforts towards bringing Toyota Motor Corp to India were made during the tenure of Chief Minister Veerappa Moily in the early 1990s, and were later followed up by his successor H.D. Deve Gowda. During J.H. Patel’s tenure, Toyota Kirloskar officially started its operations in Karnataka. Thereafter, the business savvy S.M Krishna and his industrious industries minister R.V. Deshpande extended support to the venture.

Although multiple Chief Ministers and their industries ministers were involved in bringing, hosting and settling Toyota at Bidadi, one key person who worked tirelessly from outside was Vikram Kirloskar, who is a mechanical engineering graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), U.S.A.

Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani said, “He was a dear personal friend, an industry friend and, more importantly, a genuine human being who was always ready with a smile. With the passing of Vikram, a prominent face and a pillar of the business community of Karnataka is no more.”

The Kirloskar family hails from Haveri in the Dharwad region. They have been running various businesses, including automotive engineering, pumps, gensets, and machine tools for over 100 years. Vikram Kirloskar became the mainstay of ‘Karnataka Inc.’ with Toyota Kirloskar in 1997.

Since its inception, Toyota has invested over ₹20,000 crore in Karnataka, and Mr. Kirloskar’s personal commitment in 2010 was ₹1,500 crore.

“He has been a great help in organising Global Investors’ Meet. He and (his wife) Geetanjali came with me for a road show in the U.S. prior to GIM in 2010,” recalled Mr. Nirani.

A doyen of the automotive industry, Mr. Kirloskar was extremely supportive of young people and their business ideas.

Addressing a trade body event that had several youngsters in the audience recently, he said, “You are the future leaders. You should soon be sitting here where I am sitting.”

The fourth-generation entrepreneur of the Kirloskar family leaves behind his wife Geetanjali and daughter Manasi, who works in the company.

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