Pilkington: India Investment Launched

Construction of Pilkington's new automotive plant in India has begun.The laminated windscreen facility is the first phase of a three-stage, five-year investment project which will also include a toughened and laminated OE facility and a float plant.

The site is at Visakhapatnam, or Vizag, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the south-east of the country.

Work on the site was launched at the end of April with a traditional Hindu blessing, performed by a local priest. In line with tradition, sweets were distributed to the local village people after the official ceremony.

Contractors then moved in to begin fencing and levelling the land and a temporary site office was erected.

Vizag is a centre of the steel and shipyard industries and is served by one of the largest ports in India. It is currently a boom area for industrial investment within the state, with good road links to Chennai and Calcutta and an international airport planned for 2009.

Pilkington signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Andhra Pradesh on February 14th of this year. The company has purchased 25 acres of land for Phases 1 and 2 with an option on a further 76 acres to accommodate Phase 3. Most of the required infrastructure - with the exception of a natural gas connection and rail link - is already in place or under construction.

Phase 1, the windscreen plant, is scheduled to start production in 2008. It will serve the AGR market with a capacity of 480,000 parts per year, initially only for export. The plant will employ approximately 270 people.

Project manager Stephan Rosebrock said: "This is an exciting opportunity which will give us a strategic foothold in a rapidly growing market.

"India plans to develop its automotive market towards building 7.5 million vehicles by 2020 and we will be ideally placed to supply this new market, at the same time improving our service to existing global customers."

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