US-based audio systems major Harman International is in talks with large automobile firms in India to supply its products for factory fitments, according to a top company official.
The Stamford-headquartered company, which is a subsidiary of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, is already catering to various global companies from India.
“Along with Tata, who we have a wonderful partnership with, we are in talks with all other large auto companies in and from India,” Harman International President & CEO Dinesh Paliwal told PTI in an interview.
Additionally, the company is doing some very high-end work for global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including GM, BMW and Audi from India, he added.
“Development work for those programmes of the future include deeply integrated R&D. We will make some interesting announcements this year,” Paliwal said.
Harman’s infotainment unit was first introduced in Tata Zest, followed by Bolt and later Hexa. Since starting operations in India in 2009, the company has grown its presence to eight cities with 9,000 employees across functions like R&D, sales and marketing.
“We have also invested $10 million in our manufacturing facility and an acoustics lab in Pune. We are very committed to growth in India,” Paliwal said.
India accounts for around one-third of the company’s global employee count.
“Due to the R&D and our continued efforts in the four business divisions- lifestyle, professional, connected car and connected services – we can expect this number to continue to grow this year,” Paliwal said.
The company is already planning to hire across functions, with a particular focus on engineering talent, he added. “We see India’s potential to serve as the hub for the best of tech talent and we plan to attract, excite and retain them as part of Harman’s growth engine in India and rest of the world,” Paliwal said. Harman is also evaluating to leverage Indian expertise in research and development (R&D) for advanced automation and manufacturing to cater to global markets. It is also aiming to create new categories in India to lead in the future across devices, platforms and services to stay ahead of customer expectations. “India is a great R&D source. I am working with my team to evaluate India for smart automation and smart manufacturing which will help serve both Indian and global markets,” Paliwal said.
Along with this, the company wants to democratise digitisation, grow the topline, and pick future bets from a three-five year horizon, he added. Paliwal said the company considers India as an important market and it is investing in the country accordingly.
“We are seeing robust growth in India year-on-year, led by a hugely successful lifestyle consumer business. JBL, for example, is doing exceedingly well in the country and we are leading the category (bluetooth speakers and headphones) by a large margin,” he added.
The company also has a sharp focus on e-commerce and its strong relationships with the channel partners, in metros and tier 2 and 3 cities, have given great results, he added.
“We want to continue doing all the right things and are confident to grow by 20-25 per cent every year,” Paliwal said.
Harman was acquired by Samsung Electronics in 2017 for $8 billion.