During a recent press conference, B. Santhanam, president and MD, Flat Glass, Saint-Gobain India spoke about the automotive market for glass and the possible recovery of this market in India.
He said that while the CV (commercial vehicle) sector has begun to see slight recovery, the passenger car segment is only seeing tepid growth. The company is therefore looking forward to the opening of the Sanand, Gujarat facility of Ford India to which it supplies a variety of glass products.
Over the last 18-24 months, however, due to the decline in passenger car sales, the company has been operating at between 75-80% capacity at its two plants in Chennai and Pune.
The slowdown has enabled the company to look at cost management issues and employee talent retention and morale, improving throughput and work more efficiently, said Santhanam.
Saint-Gobain’s more recent automotive clients include the Tata Zest and the Bolt. While the Zest was launched last July, the Bolt completes its second month at the end of February.
Saint-Gobain has also begun R&D activities at its Chennai-based plant, including tooling, processes and light weighting.
“As a significantly backward-integrated company, we have withstood foreign exchange fluctuations,” says Santhanam. “Our turnaround in CVs will be faster,” he says, as the sector saw a dramatic fall in numbers as against the passenger car segment that dipped and then remained more or less stable.