Worlds Best and Biggest Woo India

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Sept. 3 – This is probably the Golden era of India's auto sector. The world's crème de la crème of the global automobile industry are now in India.

Following luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rovers arrival in India Mercedes-Benz announced their foray into the Luxury Coach business in India, Audi has already been recieving a favorable response from India's monied millions. Meanwhile Japanese car maker's Indian joint venture – maruti Suzuki, said it wants to shift the bulk of its research and development work on cars with engine capacity of 1200cc or lower to India.

However, the hottest news came from General Motors, which already has a long association in India. The U.S. car company made a "clear commitment to India" by opening a second plant in western India, nearly tripling its annual output in the country to 225,000 vehicles a year.

The good news comes at a time, when Tata, is still battling farmers in Eastern India, who have stalled production of his dream car, the Tata Nano – a US$2,500 compact car that is expected to revolutionise family transport in India, given that infrastructure improves.

"As we enter our second century of doing business, there are few markets that will be more important (than India)," he said.

The company said it had invested 300 million dollars in the new factory in Talegaon, on the outskirts of Pune, 180 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of the western city of Mumbai.

Analysts forecast India will remain one of the world's fastest-expanding vehicle markets, particularly in the small-car segment as middle-class incomes climb and people switch from motorbikes to automobiles.

GM currently produces 85,000 cars a year in India at its other plant in the western state of Gujarat.

The new plant will have an annual output of 140,000 vehicles and will boost GM's total annual production by 165 percent to 225,000 vehicles.

GM India last week announced it would invest another 200 million dollars in a nearby facility aimed at producing 300,000 engines a year for domestic and export markets, AFP reported.

The Indian auto market is currently dominated by Suzuki and Hyundai. However luxury brands are revered by youngsters who need to prove they have arrived.

Reuters reports that the luxury car market in India, loosely defined as cars priced above 2 million rupees ($45,000), clocked up sales of 3,500 units last year, and is expected to jump nearly 80 percent to 6,200 units this year, according to JD Power & Associates.

"It is the fastest growing segment in the market," said Mohit Arora, senior director at JD Power in Singapore.

"The numbers are still small, but India is quickly catching up with its wealthier neighbours," he said.

Growth in the luxury segment has been helped by an economy expanding at nearly 9 percent on average in the last four years, and the entry of new players and launches from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi.

India's luxury car market is likely to edge past Thailand and draw level with Malaysia this year, and will soon overtake Singapore's sales of about 10,000 units a year, Arora estimates.

That is still a far cry from China, where luxury car sales are expected to rise by a fifth this year to about 233,000 units.