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Stage Set for Nissan to Drive into Kerala; Govt Allots Land in Technocity

The digital hub will be a research and development facility that will be shared by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

Thiruvananthapuram:  Making the Nissan foray into Kerala official, the state has released a Government Order allotting space and land to Japanese automotive major to set up its digital innovation hub in Technocity.

The digital hub will be a research and development facility that will be shared by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, a Franco-Japanese strategic partnership. Nissan’s digital hub will function as the nerve centre of the company’s research in electric and automated vehicles. According to the GO, the State Government will allot 30 acres of land in the first phase and another 40 acres in the second phase. This is the fifth digital hub of Nissan coming up in Thiruvananthapuram after Yokohama in Japan, China, Paris and Nashville in the US.

The company will initially begin operations in 100,000 sq.ft space in Yamuna building in the Technopark Phase III campus as well as Co-Workers space. The company shall be taking up space in the IT building that is coming up in Technocity.

Nissan’s digital innovation hub will be a host to a team of engineers and scientists working to create innovations in automated and electronic vehicles space. The company will be initiating Research & Development work in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Intelligence, mechatronics and other technologies that power electric vehicles and driverless cars. This campus will be known as Nissan Knowledge City. On setting up operations the company is expected to generate 3000 direct and 15,000 indirect employment opportunities.

“The Kerala Government’s vision of creating a hub of emerging technology is getting into fruition with Knowledge City development at Thiruvananthapuram by Nissan. With this strategic investment into the state, we are sure that we will be able to rope in a host of IT companies into Kerala,” said Kerala IT Parks CEO, Hrishikesh Nair.

Nissan chose Kerala to set up its digital innovation hub due to its global talent pool in IT and engineering; lack of traffic problems; airport connectivity; cost effectiveness; social amenities; good lifestyle; and based on the positive feedback from the successful IT companies here.

Entry of Nissan into Kerala is due to the concerted efforts put by the High Power IT Committee set up by the State Government to market Kerala as a global IT destination. Infosys Co-Founder S D Shibulal heads the HPIC which has industry stalwarts in IT from within and outside Kerala. The 12 member committee had Anthony Thomas, then Group CIO-GE Global who in late 2017 joined as CIO in Nissan Motor Corporation. He has been instrumental in initiating the process in Nissan zero in Thiruvananthapuram to set up their first digital technology hub in India.

IT Secretary M. Sivasankar; Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (KDISC) Chairman, K M Abraham IAS and Kerala IT Parks CEO Hrishikesh Nair visited the Nissan headquarters in Yokohama and gave a presentation on what the state can offer and invited them to Kerala for a first level meeting with Technopark CEO and other leading officials from the Government, to understand the ecosystem.

Nissan delegation led by Corporate Vice-President and Chief Information Officer Tony Thomas and officials from their Mexico, Japan, Paris and US offices met with CEOs of Technopark companies to get more in depth understanding of Technopark and Kerala IT on March 26, 2018.

On March 27 a core team comprising Nissan officials: CIO Tony Thomas, Chief Digital Officer, Swaminathan and Infrastructure Head Ramunni Nair along with Kerala IT team Hrishikesh Nair and K M Abraham met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who assured the State’s support in establishing Nissan’s Technology Hub in Thiruvananthapuram. This was followed by a detailed site visit by Nissan team along with CEO, Technopark on 4th April 2018 at Technocity where the futuristic campus has been envisaged.

The delegation who visited Kerala were impressed by the government’s various initiatives to promote the start-up ecosystem and by their commitment to create a social infrastructure supporting the industry. Nissan is the first Far-East company to set up operations in Kerala. This investment has also raised hopes on more companies from far-east may consider setting up operations here.

Nissan setting up operations in Technopark is a great boost for Kerala as it will support the state to become the hub for digital car technology as well as attract global companies to Kerala and retain top talent. Globally the car makers are investing heavily in AI, machine learning and other technologies that power electric vehicles.

The India government is also striving to transform the country into an electric vehicle nation by 2030. Nissan along with its auto making partners Renault and Mitsubishi, is aiming to launch a $1 billion fund for auto tech startups across the globe and have plans to launch 17 electric models to achieve an annual vehicle sales of 14 million units by 2022.

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