Thiruvananthapuram: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd, one of the world’s largest car makers, opened its first global research hub, to develop futuristic driverless cars and electric vehicles, in Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.

The hub will host 50% of the multinational’s digital workforce, estimated to be more than 3,000 employees, its biggest office outside Japan in this category, according to Anthony Thomas, Chief Information Officer of Nissan. The center will also act as the nerve center of the company’s cybersecurity arm, he said.

Nissan setting shop is a significant boost for Kerala, which could not attract any major multinational companies ever since US-based Oracle Corp. came to it seven years ago. While growing competition among Indian states to attract investment, the Nissan deal offer the state a face-lift.

Kerala clinched the deal after intense lobbying, which included the state’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPM, rolling a red carpet welcome for them. The Left-wing chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan invited the Japanese firm’s top members home, and served them homemade fish curry—a delicacy in Kerala-- adding a personal touch to the warm welcome for the Japanese delegation when they were scouting locations. Shashi Tharoor, the eloquent speaker, writer and Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, also talked about Kerala’s advanced socio-economic indicators — one of the best in India — for an hour, in French, in one of the early meetings.

After Nissan, US-based real estate private equity major Taurus Investment Holdings (TIH) has kickstarted its first investment in India, in collaboration with Embassy Group and Asset Homes, through a $200 million project to create IT space and social infrastructure in Technopark, a government-owned IT Park in Thiruvananthapuram. IT firm Fujitsu is also reportedly exploring the opportunity to set up shop in the State, apart from other top tech firms such as Tech Mahindra and Microsoft.

“A temporary building of Taurus out of the total 5.5 million sq ft office space will be completed and operational by by next March," Vijayan said on Monday.

“Nissan coming to Thiruvananthapuram marks the beginning of a new era for Kerala IT. We will do our best to ensure Kerala proves to be Nissan’s second home after Japan," said Vijayan.

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