Chennai is the fourth-largest economy in India, with a GDP of US$58.6 billion PPP (US$17 billion nominal GDP, 2010). Chennai has a diverse industrial base that includes the automotive, computer, technology, hardware manufacturing, and healthcare industries. The city is India’s second biggest exporter of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) services as of 2012. The city is home to a significant portion of India’s car sector, giving it the moniker “Detroit of India.” According to Euromonitor, it is renowned as the Cultural Capital of South India and is the most visited city in India by foreign visitors. The city is also home to the Madras Stock Market, India’s fourth stock exchange and one of four permanently recognized by SEBI. It is also the country’s third-largest by trading volume, behind only the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India.
The city’s industrialization stretches back to the 16th century, when textile mills produced commodities that were sent to Britain during its battle with France. According to Forbes magazine, Chennai is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, ranking among the “Forbes-Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the World.” It is rated fourth in India for having the most Fortune 500 firms, after only Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata. It also houses 24 Indian enterprises with a combined net value of more than $1 billion. As of 2012, the city has around 34,260 recognised enterprises in its 15 zones, with 5,196 having a paid-up capital of more than 50 lakh.
Chennai’s economy is diverse, with the automotive, software services, hardware manufacturing, health care, and financial services sectors anchoring it. According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, Chennai’s economy would increase to US$100 billion, or 2.5 times its current size, by 2025. As of 2012, the city is ready for massive industrial investment, with a 1 lakh crore investment in the pipeline over the next five years. GaWC classifies Chennai as a global city, assigning it a Beta level based on its worldwide reach and financial significance.
The city is home to around 30% of India’s vehicle sector and 40% of the auto component industry. Hyundai, Renault, Robert Bosch, Nissan Motors, Ashok Leyland, Daimler AG, Caterpillar Inc., Komatsu Limited, Ford, BMW, and Mitsubishi all have manufacturing units in Chennai. The Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory manufactures military vehicles, notably India’s main battle tank, the Arjun MBT. The Indian Railways use the Integral Coach Factory to build railway coaches and other rolling equipment. Many textile firms are located in the Ambattur–Padi industrial zone, and a special economic zone (SEZ) for garment and footwear production has been established in the city’s southern suburbs. Chennai accounts for more than half of India’s leather exports.
Many software and software services businesses have development centers in Chennai, which contributed 14 percent of India’s total software exports of 14,42,140 lakh in 2006–07, making it India’s second biggest software exporter after Bangalore. When it was developed, Tidel Park in Chennai was advertised as Asia’s biggest IT park. Major software businesses have operations here, with several making Chennai their primary headquarters.
The World Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, ABN AMRO, Bank of America, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, HSBC, ING Group, Allianz, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Asian Development Bank, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas Fortis, Irevna,Deutsche Bank, and Citibank all have back offices and development centers in the city Chennai is home to the national level commercial banks Indian Bank and Indian Overseas Bank, as well as various state level cooperative banks, finance, and insurance firms. Nokia, Nokia Siemens, Motorola, Dell, Force10, Wipro, Zebronics, Foxconn, and Siemens are among the telecom and electronics firms situated in and near Chennai. Chennai is now India’s leading exporter of electronics gear, accounting for 45 percent of total exports in 2010–11. Telecom behemoths Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer, and chemical behemoth Dow Chemicals all have R&D centers in Chennai. Biotechnology enterprises and labs are housed at the TICEL bio–tech park in Taramani and the Golden Jubilee bio–tech park in Siruseri. The Madras Stock Exchange is a stock exchange in Chennai.
According to a National Housing Bank research on the residential price index of Indian cities, Chennai witnessed the most rise during the 2008–2012 global financial crisis. According to a survey conducted by 99acres.com in 2011, Chennai real estate had an average price increase of 7%, with Tambaram, Chrompet, and Thoraipakkam leading the way. Medical tourism is another major sector of the Chennai economy, accounting for 45 percent of all medical visitors in India. The Tamil cinema and television industries are also important components of Chennai’s economy. The Chennai Trade Centre, located in Nandambakkam, is also a permanent exposition facility. Chennai is ranked sixth among Indian cities that are home to the country’s super-rich, with 385 ultra-rich residents. The city is India’s third biggest market for premium automobiles.