Karnataka allots 43 acres to Wistron for Apple’s iPhone unit

The Karnataka governm­ent has awarded 43 acres of land to Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Co­rp, an OEM of Apple Inc, to build an iPhone assembly facility at the outskirts of state capital.

State IT minister Priy­ank Kharge told Financial Chronicle that the Karnataka industrial area development board (KIADB) has granted land at the rate of Rs 48 lakh per acre. Wistr­on’s iPhone assembly facility is expected to come up soon and employee around 8000, said the minister.

“KIADB approved the land a months ago,’’ said the minister. Wistron had sought 50-100 acres of land from the state government.

The site in the Narasapura Industrial Area is located 50 km away from the Bangalore International Ai­r­port. The area already ho­u­ses assembly operations of a number of firms like Ho­nda Motorcycle and Scooter India and Mahindra Ae­rospace.

Wistron will invest $105 million (Rs 6.8 billion) in the plant and manufacture smartphones, internet of th­i­ngs (IoT) products and bio-tech devices.

The company currently assembles Apple’s low-cost iPhone SE model here and does contract manufacturing work for a broad range of electronics brands.

The expansion of manufacturing facility could me­an a widening of Apple’s iPhone assembly in India, as the Cupertino-based te­chnology major has to pay steep duties on devices imported into the country. Also exploring local manuf­a­cturing will help Apple cut soaring labour costs in ot­h­er manufacturing locations including China, where its biggest contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry, widely known as Foxconn, makes a bulk of iPhones and iPads.

Apple has signaled its long-term commitment to Wistron’s Indian operations. In a report on supplier responsibility progress earlier this month it said it provides waste management training and has also introduced women’s health programmes at the existing Bangalore plant.

Apple has very little presence in the fastest growing smartphone market in the world due to the high prices of its products. Apple wanted to sell refurbished iPhones in India in a bid to cater to a wider audience, but its request was turned down by the Indian government.