New Delhi March 11 (BBC): A washing machine has been launched for the Indian market, with a special mode to tackle curry and hair oil stains. Panasonic said the introduction of a ‘curry’ button followed complaints from customers struggling to fully get the food off their clothes.
It says development took two years, testing combinations of water temperature and water flow.
The machine has five other cycles aimed at the Indian consumer, including one to remove traces of hair oil.
As part of the development, Panasonic researchers analysed what went into a typical Indian household’s curry dish.
The firm said it then tried to establish the optimal time and water temperature required to remove the stains.
Panasonic said it planned similar machines for other Asian markets, tackling stains specific to those countries, but would not elaborate.
Only about 10% of homes in India have a washing machine, with most people still doing their laundry by hand.
That means there is plenty of room for market growth, and the electronics giant hopes the India-focussed machine will help it challenge the South Korean manufacturers dominating the sector.
Panasonic told the BBC that about 5,000 of the machines had been sold so far, with a target to sell at least 30,000 by March next year.
Priced at about 22,000 Indian rupees (£268;$330), the new model costs around 10% more than other washing machines.
Panasonic entered the India market in 1990, first producing rice cookers and then expanding its line to also manufacture air conditioners.
In December last year, the company announced it would set up a factory in the North Indian state of Haryana making refrigerators.
The Japanese firm has associated itself with other headline-grabbing products.
Last year it invested US $60 million in Seven Dreamers, a Japanese start-up which is developing what it claims to be the world’s robot which folds laundry.
(Photo: courtesy Getty Images)