New Delhi: The country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India plans to increase its R&D manpower by over 20 per cent to more than 1,300 people in 2011-12 as it looks to become the hub of research activities for parent Suzuki.

The company's R&D division is at present working to enhance its capability to develop a complete model in India.

"The company's R&D team has plans of increasing its manpower from 1,070 numbers to more than 1,300 numbers in FY 2011-12," Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said in its Annual Report for 2010-11.

The company had hired 102 people in 2010-11 for its R&D division, it added.

The report further said the company is developing its "engineering skills to design and develop cars to delight the Indian consumer and establish Maruti as the R&D hub of Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) in Asia outside Japan".

To achieve this goal, MSI's R&D arm is focusing on design and development of new products and full body change, followed by development of new platforms.

"The company's R&D team already has the capability for carrying out minor changes and co-design with SMC for new models. Company's R&D team is on the path for acquiring capability to make full body changes indigenously," MSI said.

As part of its future projects, the company plans to develop new products on its own strength. It is also looking at developing more products with alternative fuel options.

In order to meet its requirement, the company is increasing the spending of the R&D team by multi-fold.

During FY'11, MSI spent Rs 416.3 crore on R&D activities which was over two-fold higher than its spending during the previous year that stood at Rs 173.3 crore.

To consolidate its research capabilities, the company is currently investing Rs 2,500 crore for a K-series engine plant and setting up of a dedicated R&D facility at Rohtak.

Commenting on this development, MSI Managing Director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi said: "The growth of the Indian market deserves additional and localized R&D capability that can serve India even more closely.

"Whether it is working on next generation CNG technology or hybrid or electric cars, or launching new models or variants, we need to develop R&D capability in India along with our suppliers".

He said the company is also studying the feasibility of electric vehicles mobility in India along with the Government and other industry players.

"While working on latest technologies to enhance fuel efficiency, we are also working with the industry and policy makers to evolve mandatory fuel efficiency standards for the car industry," Nakanishi said.

(Agencies)