Conglomerate Tata Group plans to build one of India’s largest iPhone assembly plants, tapping Apple’s ambitions to expand manufacturing in the South Asian country.
According to people with knowledge of the matter, Tata wants to build a factory in Hosur in southern Tamil Nadu state. The facility will have about 20 assembly lines and employ 50,000 workers within two years, according to the people who declined to be named discussing the undisclosed plans. The target is to have the site operational in 12 to 18 months.
The plant will boost Apple’s efforts to localize its supply chain and strengthen its partnership with Tata, which already has an iPhone factory that it acquired from Wistron. In the neighboring state of Karnataka. Apple is diversifying its operations away from China by working with assembly and component manufacturing partners in India, Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment, while a Tata representative did not respond to a request for comment.
The Indian group has taken other steps to enhance its business with Apple and expand beyond its traditional businesses ranging from salt to software. It has ramped up recruitment at its existing facility in Hosur, where it produces iPhone enclosures or metal casings. Tata has also said that it will launch 100 retail stores focused on Apple products. On its part, Apple has opened two stores in the country and is planning to open three more.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s production-linked subsidies have prompted key Apple suppliers like Taiwan’s Foxconn and Pegatron to ramp up operations in India. This helped Apple assemble more than $7 billion worth of iPhones in India last fiscal year, increasing the country’s share in device production to nearly 7 percent. The rest are assembled in China, which made them all until a few years ago.
The new plant will be medium-sized among iPhone factories globally. It will likely be larger than the company Tata acquired from Wistron, which employs more than 10,000 people, and smaller than Foxconn’s largest China facilities which employ hundreds of thousands.
Apple and Tata are likely to urge the government to provide subsidies for the new factory as production is expected to begin just as previous state-backed financial incentives are set to expire.
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