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He's the force behind Bajaj Tempo

Last updated on: March 21, 2005 19:06 IST
Abhay Firodia likes to keep a low profile and avoids publicity. It is his niece, Sulajja F Motwani, who has emerged as the emblem of the group, comprising Bajaj Tempo and Kinetic Engineering, in the last few years.

But in the past two weeks, Firodia has been courted by headline-grabbing controversies, not once but twice.

First, it was a seemingly innocuous proposal to change the name of his company from Bajaj Tempo to Force Motors that met with some forceful opposition from Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Auto, because his company holds a 24 per cent stake in Bajaj Tempo.

Second, he had to battle rumours doing the rounds of a possible stake buyout in Bajaj Tempo by its German collaborator Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nurnberg. That's a lot of media glare for a hitherto low-profile company.

Abhay Firodia, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Tempo, is surprisingly articulate when one corners him.

When asked in the past about whether the company was contemplating a name change to reflect its ownership, Firodia had said, "It has been our family tradition not to name companies after clan members.

Take Kinetic for example. It's not called Firodia Motors or Firodia Engineering. We make quality products. So, what's in a name?"

Famous last words? Not really. According to company officials, the name change is being considered mainly to oblige the erstwhile partner DaimlerChrysler, which owned the "Tempo" trademark.

Abhay Firodia has always steered clear of controversy, despite a potential troublemaker hot on his heels-the Bajaj Auto crossholding.

His greatest achievement so far has been the technical collaboration with MAN, Europe's third-largest truck manufacturer, which will take the company into hitherto uncharted territory-the HCV segment.

With the launch of the trucks come new challenges - setting up two facilities in Chakan and Pithampur to produce 6,000 units a year. A considerable number of this will be exported as assemblies to Europe. All this will be achieved in 2005 itself.

From exploring the roads of rural India in a Tempo Trax to cruising national and international highways in German technology-fuelled high-end trucks, this Firodia is no pushover, rather a force to reckon with.

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Parvathy Ullatil in Mumbai
Source: source