Going green

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Article by: Anirudh Raheja

The focus on emission control technologies is growing, especially in the case of commercial vehicles.

A 54-year old truck operator, Satpal Singh is a worried man. Operating a 11-year old Tata 1618 truck to ferry goods from Delhi to Mumbai and back, Satpal Singh’s only source of livelihood looks like is in danger. The National Green Tribunal recently issued orders to ban diesel vehicles aged over 10 years from plying in Delhi citing their ability to pollute. Satpal Singh is one of the many truckers who are suddenly finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. Their means of livelihood seems to be caught in the cross currents of the polluted air that is claimed to induce many ailments respiratory or otherwise in the Delhi population. In its report released last year, WHO named Delhi as one of the most polluted cities in the world. The advantage derived by the conversion of all public transport vehicles, an estimated 1,00,000, to CNG following an Apex court order in 1998 seems to have been lost. The suspended particulate matter in Delhi region is claimed to be nearing the 1995 levels, which led to the first generation emission reforms steered by the judiciary.

Judiciary driven reforms are welcome, as are also those enforced by the executive. The need to go green cannot be refuted. However, it needs to be backed by a long-term plan that is all inclusive and an outcome of a deep understanding of the technologies that are instrumental in helping to build sustainable, environment friendly automobiles. Speaking at an event in Mumbai in February 2015, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping said, “Pollution is a big problem for all Indian cities. Second, we are importing petroleum products, coal and gas, and are spending a lot in doing so. Our government is working closely on assessing the reach of biofuels and other sustainable fuels. The first bus using ethanol has been plying in Nagpur for the past three months, and it has been a success till now. We are also in the process of experimenting with biodiesel and bio-CNG. It is that time for the economy and country, when we should give the highest priority to alternative and sustainable fuels. In all this, we also want to promote our ‘Make in India’ campaign and utilise the home-grown technical know how to meet our demands.”

The ethanol powered bus from Scania has been plying in Gadkari’s constituency, Nagpur, since November 2014. Another 55 such buses are claimed to have been ordered by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. A modern, air-conditioned low-floor design, the ethanol bus is Euro-V emission regulations compliant. Bharat Stage (BS) emission standards are closely modelled on the European (Euro) emission standards, the difference limited to some test cycles. Until the implementation of BS III, Indian emission standards followed the Euro standards fairly closely. That was until April 2010. However, since then the gap has been widening. Euro-VI emission norms rolled out in Europe in September 2014. In India, BS IV emission standards were rolled out in 13 cities including the National Capital Region (NCR) at around the same time. The nationwide roll out of BS IV emission standards is yet to take place. This is claimed to have happened because the state owned refineries were finding it difficult to supply the required quality of fuel to regions other than the 13 cities. At an event organised by CV magazine in Mumbai in January 2015, Vinod K Dasari, MD, Ashok Leyland Ltd, said, “It is not the (auto) industry that is lacking in terms of technology, the need is for quicker implementation from the government.” He added,“Nobody is saying no to change. In the next two-to-three years, the regulatory changes will start. We have been supplying BS-IV compliant vehicles in 13 cities, so it is more about the nationwide availability of BS-IV fuel. This will cost the government a capex of Rs.50,000 crores.” Explained a Society of India Automotive Manufacturers (SIAM) official, that even though India is all set to witness nationwide BS-IV emission norms implementation, automakers have been asking for the roll out of BS V emission norms by 2019. The timeline slated for BS V roll-out was earlier 2020. 

Industry is keen

Ambuj Sharma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises is known to have said that the government is gearing up to hold discussions with all stakeholders to decide on BS-VI emission standards roll out. Industry leaders seem keen. The industry will however need to make the necessary investment, upgrade their facilities and reach out. Stated Friedrich Boecking, Regional President, Diesel Systems, Bosch, that enough time for development is required if the industry needs to move from BS-V to BS-VI norms. It will take some time for vehicle and engine manufacturers to develop technology specific to Indian roads and driving patterns. This concerns vehicles – commercial vehicles especially, that run on diesel fuel. The Euro V emission compliant Scania city bus in Nagpur runs on ED 95 grade of Ethanol. The BYD city bus at Bangalore runs on electricity; is a zero emissions vehicle. It was during the Commonwealth Games at Delhi in 2010, that Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland supplied six and two CNG hybrid buses respectively. Ashok Leyland is planning to launch the Versa electric bus in India as part of its Optare product portfolio.

The right time

Industry experts are of the opinion that now is the right time to move to a higher emission standards. Oil prices are at a lower level than they were last year. Crude oil prices are still hovering around the USD 60 per barrel mark. When the fuel prices bounce back, it will prove to be beneficial, they claim further. Despite the auto industry willing to roll out vehicles with appropriate technology quickly, the challenge is likely to be at the refinery stage, where large investments may be needed to turn out fuel with an even lower content of Sulphur. Sulphur content in BS V is 10 ppm. In BS IV fuel it is 50 ppm, and in BS IV+ fuel it is 40 ppm. To curb pollution there is a need to move up to BS V emission standard swiftly. Also, since India has been following the Euro emission standards with a time lag, adapting or application engineering products that are already available in the European markets may be useful, without investing heavily, and in a manner that is time consuming. In fact, OEMs and their suppliers are keeping a close eye on the possible developments. Expressed James Verrier, President and CEO, BorgWarner, “Technologies that have been successfully applied in Europe will find their way to India. In the next couple of years, BorgWarner will launch derivatives of such products, which will undergo application engineering, testing and validation at the local level.” Averred Oerlikon chief executive officer of drive systems, Dr. Bernd Matthes, “Frugal engineering will be a part of our approach for expansion in India. Moving forward we will also open our engineering centre in India to ensure that we tailor our products for specific requirements of the market and customise them.”

In pursuit of clean air

If the successful conversion of Delhi’s city buses to CNG, and also those that run in Mumbai is an indication, it is not the dearth of technology or its application that is stalling the move to more stringent emission standards in a pursuit for cleaner air. It is also not that the auto industry is not willing. In fact, the Indian auto industry is more than willing. It will however have to be taken into confidence before the decision to move up is taken. Remarked Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director, CVBU, Tata Motors, “Our Jamshedpur plant is currently manufacturing vehicles complying to BS IV emission standards. It can be fully geared up to manufacture vehicles complying with BS V and BS VI emission standards when required in the future.” A big change to BS V and BS VI emission standards will mark a move to SCR systems, and bring into play additional componentry and associated costs. Not a deterrent for Indian OEMs in any way; many of them are exporting Euro V and Euro VI emission compliant commercial vehicles. At the 2014 Hannover show, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles displayed a Euro V FUSO FJ 2528 R truck that is made at its Chennai plant. Opined Erich Nesselhauf, CEO and MD, DICV, “We are capable of manufacturing Euro IV to Euro VI emission compliant vehicles in India. The question is, what do we want? Since India has more engineers, it is time that some innovative technologies come out of India rather than merely following the developed markets.” Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the Board of Management responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, expressed the need to replace old commercial vehicles with new, more cleaner and efficient vehicles to curb rising pollution levels.

Alternate technologies

Dr. Bernhard’s comment puts the spotlight on modern commercial vehicles. Diesel powered or those that are powered by other means. To turn the ethanol dream into practicality, Scania has been helping the local manufacture of ethanol from molasses as well as farm waste. Scania has been pushing for biogas powered commercial vehicles as a way to greener environment. While Bangalore Municipal Transport Corporation sources claim that the BYD bus has come with a guarantee of 10-years of battery life, industry sources claimed that electric vehicles may not work out to be as effective as say the ethanol powered bus. Electric vehicles are also claimed to come with a baggage. The baggage of electricity they consume being produced by thermal plants that are considered to be one of the most polluting. But, then the availability of CNG is limited to a few cities. Ethanol is not commercially available yet. As part of its commitment towards ethanol and biogas commercial vehicles, Scania recently announced that in association with the development financier of the Swedish state, Swedfund, it is establishing a partnership to develop the production of biogas as an automotive fuel in the Indian city of Nagpur. The biogas will be produced from digested sludge from one of the city’s wastewater treatment plants in collaboration with local companies. Nagpur is participating in the Indian Government’s initiative to improve the environment and transport systems in the country’s 100 largest cities. According to Industry experts, India occupies third place in terms of global carbon dioxide emissions, and these emissions are expected to double in the next few decades. In line with the country’s continued urbanisation, the quantity of waste produced in the cities is also increasing.

The Indian Government is working actively to improve the environment and accessibility in 100 large cities in the country. The initiative is called Smart Cities, and for the same, the government has approached international companies that would invest in technologies and systems that can promote the development of sustainable cities. Sources close to Scania said that the production of biogas from waste in major cities and residual products from agriculture represents an important part of the solution to India’s problems with air pollution, waste management and the cost of imported energy. Outlining his company’s plan, Anders Grundstromer, MD, Scania India, on the sidelines of the bus plant inauguration at Bangalore said, “Once we are able to produce Ethanol ED 95 in India from agricultural waste, we will also be focusing on wet ethanol. With 95 per cent ethanol and 5 per cent ignition improver, we can reduce CO2 emission by 90 per cent when compared to a diesel bus”. 

Supporting infrastructure

Adoption of alternate propulsion technologies is made successful only by the supply of the required infrastructure. Simply OEMs cannot make it successful. Nor just the suppliers and other elements of the auto industry. For use in diesel commercial vehicles, Castrol recently responded with a Vecton RX fuel saver oil, developed especially for Tata Motors. The lube promises a long drain interval and a reduction in hydrocarbons. Shell also launched Rimula T5 E 10W-30 engine oil in association with Tata Motors. It is of the semi synthetic variety, and promises better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Nitin Prasad, Managing Director, Shell Lubricants India, said, “As we move through generations of emission standards from Euro II to VI, there has been a huge change in the level of collaboration required between engine makers, OEMs and lubricant manufacturers. We need to have end-to-end solutions and everything has to start at the initiation of the design stage rather than at the end of it.” Aware that the need for new technologies will emerge over time, suppliers are focusing on their ability to respond quickly. They are thus adopting lateral measures for expansion.

Dr. Wilfried Aulber, MD and CEO, Roland Berger, opined that it is important for them (suppliers) to stay focused as there is still scope of improvement at Tier 2 level of component manufacturers. “It is true that OEMs should demand products that make them stay ahead of the curve yet understand their needs when it comes to expanding horizons. Component manufacturers in India are not lagging behind in terms of technology, and are in fact fully geared up to serve demand for high end products,” he added. The valve train parts Ghaziabad Precision Products supplies to Volvo Eicher Powertrain find use in Euro V and Euro VI engines of 5-litre and 8-litre capacity. These engines are exported to various Volvo locations around the globe. Sourcing parts locally for Euro VI compliant engine made at the Pithampur plant has been helping the Volvo Group to cut down costs by 25 per cent as against the costs it would incur at Europe.

With a supporting infrastructure, which could be in the form of an ethanol production facility, a clean electricity source, appropriate technology providers, lubricant providers, etc., the need, claim industry experts, is to ensure a complete deployment of emission standards across the country rather than in a phased manner. Low sulphur fuel is expected to be available by 2017. Until then, the full potential of emission technologies as well as that of the regulations may not realise. Not to the fullest. It is actually the government that will have to drive the change. It has initiated measures like National Air Quality Index to create awareness in people against rising pollution. However that is not enough. The need is to uniformly roll out emission norms without losing site of the advantages alternate technologies offer. The need is also for the government to install the necessary infrastructure. Only then will the term ‘Going Green’ will have found the right mention. 

Isuzu Motors India drives into East India; opens its first dealership outlet in Kolkata

In line with its network expansion drive, Isuzu Motors India Private Limited, a subsidiary of Isuzu Motors, Japan, one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers and a leader in pick-up trucks, today announced its entry in the Eastern part of the country. To mark the occasion, Isuzu Motors India inaugurated the first dealership outlet of East India in Kolkata – “Mohanmotor Isuzu”.
Isuzu made its entry into the market with the culmination of the 3rd edition of the Isuzu “Max Run Challenge” which was held at the new dealership facility located at Ecosuite Business Tower, 1st Floor, Plot II, D/22 Action Area –II, New town Street No 676 and 775, Rajarhat, Kolkata – 700156. Kolkata being the main commercial city of Eastern and North Eastern India, the new dealer facility will cater to the needs of the customers in the region with best-in-class products and services.
Speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Shigeru Wakabayashi, Deputy Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India, said, “We are extremely happy to be here in Kolkata, as we are progressing rapidly in terms of our network expansion. With our presence in Kolkata, we will provide customers in the east unique advantages of our product portfolio that will help them invigorate their businesses. We are happy to be partnering with “Mohanmotor Isuzu”, as they are well known for their customer-oriented approach.”
Mr. Sandip Bajaj, Dealer Principal, Mohanmotor Isuzu, said, “We are happy to be associated with Isuzu Motors, a brand that is known for its pioneering effort in diesel engines and commercial vehicles. I am extremely happy to be associated with Isuzu Motors India to bring Isuzu’s world-renowned pickup trucks and sports utility vehicle to this part of the country. We will offer the best in sales and service support to all our customers with Isuzu.”
The award winning Isuzu D-MAX is tough, reliable and fuel efficient. It is built on a heavy-duty chassis that offers Isuzu’s legendary durability and superior performance, making it one of the most competitive pick-up trucks in the country. The Isuzu D-MAX has a large and wide cargo deck that can carry loads with ease. The cab of the Isuzu D-MAX is made from high-tensile steel that ensures greater safety. The front and rear suspension having independent coil springs and rigid leaf springs respectively, provide greater stability to the vehicle. It sports a bold and aggressive look on the outside and sophisticated, passenger-vehicle like interiors, making it a pride for the owner. Powered by the legendary Isuzu engine technology and its practical features, the Isuzu D-MAX helps the customers to ‘Go More, Do More and Get More’.
A completely new concept in India, the new Isuzu D-MAX Space Cab’s unique feature is its extended cabin space of 1.5 feet behind the drivers’ seat, which can store valuable/ fragile goods. It offers significant features like power steering, power windows, centralized door lock, etc., making it ideal for commercial use in industries like Agriculture, Retail, Dairy, Engineering, Manufacturing and Small businesses.
Isuzu is rapidly expanding its dealer network in the country and has plans to open 60 outlets across India by end of 2015-16. Isuzu currently has 21 dealership facilities at Delhi, Noida, Jaipur, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Madurai, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Cochin, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Gurgaon, Indore, Vadodara and Kolkata.

Tata Motors wins TU Automotive Detroit Award for Best Telematics Product

Tata Motors’, has been honoured with the ‘Best Telematics Product or Launch in the Emerging market’ award for its Telematics solution, based on the popular Android platform developed for the Tata Magic Iris Electric. The TU Automotive Detroit – Telematics Autonomy mobility award is a prestigious award given every year to companies for outstanding products or services in an emerging market for vehicle connectivity. Tata Motors entry was adjudged best amongst the top global offerings by reputed organizations.

TU-Automotive Detroit (formerly Telematics Detroit) is the world’s largest conference and exhibition dedicated to the evolution of automotive technology & innovation for connected cars, auto-mobility and autonomous use-cases. The final award ceremony was held on 02 June 2015, in Detroit, USA.

The awarded Telematics solution has been developed for Tata MAGIC IRIS Electric, a zero emission last mile small commercial passenger vehicle that runs on Lithium Ion battery modules of 110 Ah @ 48V. The vehicle can run up to 100 kilometers with two battery modules which takes a maximum of eight hours to charge, through an on-board charger. Additionally, the Magic IRIS electric comes with a 120 watt solar panel on the roof for supplementary charging. The key features of TATA MOTORS telematics offering are:

  •    # Trip planner and Navigation – an algorithm to calculate the manageability of the trip based on the battery charge
  •    #  Duress SMS – one touch SMS feature for Ambulance, Police and Vehicle Owner
  •    # Service SMS – one touch SMS for service reminders and break down management
  •    # Mobile alert for charging – sends an alert message once the battery is fully charged
  •     #  A simple and full-proof intuitive GUI experience

Showcased at the Auto Expo 2014, Tata MAGIC IRIS Electric is a green and eco-friendly small commercial vehicle from the company aimed at last mile passenger connectivity. The Tata MAGIC IRIS Electric can accommodate four passengers in comfort, with robust low maintenance aggregates, safe operation and high savings and profits, owing to very low running costs.

The vehicle has previously won the “Environment technology of the year 2014” that honoured excellence in green automotive technology and spirit of innovation. It also won second place at the prestigious “Mahesh Modi Environmental Excellence Award” in January 2015.

Speaking on the award win, Dr. Ajit K Jindal, Head Engineering Commercial Vehicles – ERC, Tata Motors,As leaders in the Indian commercial vehicle space, we at Tata Motors have spearheaded ‘change’ in the Indian transportation industry for many years, and are today leading the shift towards Electric and Hybrid  drivetrain for various platform. Going forward, we also wish to harness the power and potential of advanced Telematics and Fleet Management services, across our widest range of commercial vehicles, like the Magic Iris Electric. We are pleased to have been recognised with this award, a testament of our hard work and efforts towards transforming the way commercial vehicles are managed in India.”

In 2014, Tata Motors announced its partnership with Microlise of the UK, one of Europe’s leading Telematics and Fleet Management solutions providers, to bring advanced global Fleet Telematics solutions to the Indian market, through the Tata FleetMan platform. Tata Motors launched the Tata FleetMan Telematics and Fleet Management services brand in India three years ago, in response to growing market needs for better fleet control and utilisation. The Tata FleetMan service is currently installed as a standard fitment in Tata Motors range of medium and heavy commercial vehicles.

Similarly, Tata Motors also launched recently launched the Tata SKOOLMAN Telematics solutions for its school bus range.61c5eaf5-a97c-4000-bbbf-af80acda5e21_TempSmall

Bajaj’s RE-60 becomes the star attraction at Ceylon Motor Show 2015 in Sri Lanka

The new Bajaj RE-60 four-wheeler grabbed the attention of hundreds of automobile enthusiasts this year at the Ceylon Motor Show 2015. The event was held recently at BMICH in Colombo, Sri Lanka, witnessed scores of visitors leveraging the opportunity to have a closer look at and be test-driven in the Bajaj RE-60.

Mr. Rakesh Sharma, President – International Business for Bajaj Auto Ltd. said stated “RE 60 is a next generation 4-wheeler that innovatively combines modern technology with purposeful vehicle design. We were thrilled by the positive feedback from the audience as most of the them felt that it was an ideal vehicle for the middle class as well as good alternative to the 3-wheeler. We are confident that this cost effective and eco-friendly last mile mobility solution will establish new standards in solving mobility issues in developing countries like Sri Lanka”.

The Bajaj RE 60 is powered by a 4 valve, water cooled, tri-spark 216cc engine that delivers a maximum speed of 70 kmph and fuel efficiency of 35 kmpl. The unique features of this ground breaking vehicle are that it is easy to drive, compact, lightweight and has a low carbon emission at just 60 gm/km. 349f1473-a554-42f8-bb34-e0fb11e456a2_TempBig 2f2afe21-b8d6-4d83-98f3-e17326bd5246_TempBig 4bdcf886-de77-4514-97ea-617a6ebb500e_TempBig

Isuzu Motors India introduces D-MAX Air-Conditioned and Cab-Chassis variants

The globally-renowned Isuzu D-MAX known for its durability, reliability and fuel efficiency will now be available in two new variants meeting specific requirements of the customers in the pick-up segment. Isuzu Motors India Private Limited, currently selling the Isuzu D-MAX in India has expanded its D-MAX range with Air-Conditioned and Cab-Chassis variants.

The Isuzu D-MAX Single Cab Flat Deck will now be available with a factory built Air-Conditioned variant to offer the D-MAX cus3e287f3b-325e-488e-be22-b5b17ba5b681_TempSmall (1)tomers more comfort and a fatigue-free driving experience. In a tropical country like India where temperatures soar, an air-conditioned vehicle helps reduce fatigue and increases productivity. The D-Max with air-conditioning will be a perfect partner for our customers.

The Cab-Chassis variant will fulfil the needs of customers’ operating vehicle applications across various businesses such as Food & Catering, Perishables, Hardware, FMCG, etc. Such customers will now have the flexibility to construct their own load-bodies suiting their business requirements. This variant will be available in the Isuzu D-MAX Single Cab model. Further the D-Max is the most suitable vehicle for Cold-Chain applications due to its higher power and other features. Again in India where temperatures are usually above 25 degrees in most places and most times of the year, the need for a highly efficient refrigerated pick-up gains significant importance. Efficiency improves performance and reduces wastage and on this the Isuzu D-Max scores over the rest with great advantage.

Speaking about the new variants, Mr. Naohiro Yamaguchi, Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India, said, “With the roll-out of these new Isuzu D-MAX variants, we are offering our customers a comprehensive range of options to choose from, meeting specific needs and requirements of different businesses. Under the harsh heat and tiring conditions in India, modern customers look for comfort features that enhance productivity while reducing fatigue, even for their drivers. The D-Max with Air-Conditioning will be the perfect choice. On the other hand, the Cab-Chassis variantis a perfect partner that provides customers’ the flexibility to choose their load-body configuration and maximize value. This is an important development and an extension of our product offering in the pick-up segment, enabling customers to ‘Go More, Do More and Get More’.”

The award winning Isuzu D-MAX is tough, reliable and fuel efficient. It is built on a heavy-duty chassis that offers Isuzu’s legendary durability and superior performance, making it one of the most competitive pick-up trucks in the country. The Isuzu D-MAXhas a large and wide cargo deck that can carry loads with ease. The cab of the Isuzu D-MAX is made from high-tensile steel that ensures greater safety. The front and rear suspension having independent coil springs and rigid leaf springs respectively, provide greater stability to the vehicle. It sports a bold and aggressive look on the outside and sophisticated, passenger-vehicle like interiors, making it a pride for the owner. Powered by the legendary Isuzu engine technology, the Isuzu D-MAX makes it the ideal pick-up for a profitable business.

A completely new concept in India, the new Isuzu D-MAX Space Cab’s unique feature is its extended cabin space of 1.5 feet behind the drivers’ seat, which can store valuable/ fragile goods. It offers significant features like power steering, power windows, centralized door lock, etc., making it ideal for commercial use in industries like Agriculture, Retail, Dairy, Engineering, Manufacturing and Small businesses.

Isuzu is rapidly expanding its dealer network in the country and has plans to open 60 outlets across India by end of 2015-16. Isuzu currently has 20 dealership facilities at Delhi, Noida, Jaipur, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Madurai, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Cochin, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Gurgaon, Indore and Vadodara.

“Clutch manufacturer will have to come up with products which improve driver comfort, lessen fatigue and offer better road safety.”

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Udit Sheth, Executive Director, Setco Automotive Ltd.

How far have you come on the ceramic clutch front. Would the 2015 Prima T1 have them?

We have given them (Tata Motors) the offer for ceramic clutches but the 2015 T1 Prima is using a 17-inch diameter organic clutch. In racing conditions, ceramic clutches are always better because they support a high ability to accelerate. However at the kind of horsepower the (T1 Prima) truck produces, a ceramic clutch may not be needed. I think for now, they (Tata Motors) aim to get the racing right and get into component engineering in the next phase. Right now the focus is on tweaking the engine and its weight, to get more power out of the vehicle. This may be followed by braking dynamics and clutch dynamics. Last year (2014), we took all our clutches back from the race trucks and analysed their performance. What we found was that they could be re-installed and used for another 2,00,000 km.

You have been supplying clutch systems to Tata Motors for a long time. How do look at Tata Motors’ pursuit for AMT?

AMTs also have clutches. It is just that they are used differently. I don’t see too much of a threat over there. I think we are still far away from building AMTs as a standard feature. Also, in India we still need to get our power-to-weight ratio right. This has a direct impact on fuel consumption, as well as the wear and tear of parts. Overloading and the poor condition of roads are still our biggest challenges. It all revolves around the operating conditions.

Having a global presence, do you foresee any drastic changes in the clutch industry?

There will be no drastic changes. Changes will be in the area of noise and vibration. Noise and vibration harmonics will play an important role due to rising environmental concerns. So, the clutch manufacturer will have to come up with products which improve driver comfort. Products which lessen fatigue and offer better road safety. One would also need to be at the edge of cost and development.

How advantageous it is to make in India, you recently mentioned that Setco will be commissioning a foundry at Kalol?

I think our primary advantage in India is that we have good engineers. They have the ability to work keeping international market requirements in sight. Then, we have better costs. It is however, not only about cost reduction, but also about innovation. India does differentiate itself when it comes to low cost products. We are able to customise the products better, unlike China, which is known for producing bulk quantity.

India seems to focus on innovation in terms of costs, or should it clearly stand out in a particular area?

Innovation in terms of costs and standing out in a particular area are two sides of the same coin. The difference I see is in our engineers, that they need to get their hands a little more dirty. They need to get on the shop floor. In India, we have a lot of disguised unemployment, and there is a need therefore to efficiently use our manpower.

With a need to build world-class trucks, we still seem to get the power-to-weight ratio right. There’s the scarcity of drivers. What do you think?

Ours is a market in which owner driven trucks do not constitute a large part of the CV industry. If he will buy for self driving, for sure he will go for a vehicle with better features.

You think such a market will evolve in India?

It is too early to comment. We still have people who are not trained, and work for minimal amount. Half of the truck drivers out there have been cleaners earlier. One side of it is that if the driver faces bad roads and uses the clutch frequently, it is good for our business. Replacements will go up. And experts can easily tell whether the clutch has been abused, or has had a manufacturing defect. Also, it is the overall value proposition that will decide whether we will have enough drivers in the future.

What kind of clutch technology does India need?

I don’t think it will be changing dramatically. The clutches developed for advanced markets like Europe will fail in India, not because the product is faulty but because the engineering standards of the clutches vary according to market performances.

New technologies that you are working on?

Normally as the clutch wears, you have to adjust it. That adjustment is done manually, and can be automated. We are currently working on a technology that will automate the adjustment of the clutch. We expect it to enhance customer satisfaction. We need to target OEMs first as aftermarket will not move forward until OEMs are willing. There will be a need to leverage both.

Volvo to export buses to Europe

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar
In what could be termed as a significant development, Volvo Buses India, a decade and a half after it stepped into India, has begun exporting buses to Europe.Beginning its Indian journey by launching the B7R, 12 m long two-axle, inter-city luxury coach in 2001, Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd. has begun exporting fully-built, Euro 6 emission compliant buses to Europe. This initiative is an outcome of the Asia leverage program, which was launched in 2011 with the view of exporting products from India and China. Aimed at an inter-city coach segment in Europe that typically does between 100 and 300 km according to Akash Passey, Senior Vice President – Business Region International, Volvo Buses, the buses destined for Europe contain an imported driveline. To comply with Euro 6 norms, they are equipped with the SCR and other related systems. The body is 100 per cent indigenised. A two-axle design (like the B7R), the Europe-bound buses according to sources at Volvo Buses India, will be similar in appearance to the buses that are found in India. They will thus be imported as fully-built units, and have been built taking into consideration the feedback of European buyers.

Marking an entry into the new era according to Hakan Agnevall, President, Volvo Buses, the Europe-bound buses will also carry some engine components that have been sourced through Volvo Eicher’ joint venture engine plant at Pithampur, Indore. Said Agnevall, “We are the first bus company to export buses to Europe. Present here for fourteen years, we are taking the next step of the Asia leverage strategy.” As part of the Asia leverage strategy, Volvo first embarked on a plan to expand the bus plant at Hoskote, Bangalore. Pledging to invest Rs.400 crore, more lines and processes were installed; new paint shop was installed along with a warehouse, and a training and skills development centre.

An R&D centre was also setup, and has 50 engineers who help with driveline and body parts of the products. Enabling the company to offer better products and facilities locally, the plan according to Akash, also coincides with the prime minister’s plan to ‘Make-in-India’. Coming to include other activities as well, over Rs. 400 crore has been invested till date. Set to cater to a market estimated to be worth 5,000 units, and having the presence of Daimler, Iveco and many home grown brands in Europe, the European export initiative according to Hakan rides on a substantial competence built at Bangalore.

The Europe-bound buses will see some amount of customisation according to Hakan. Like the placement of ticket vending machine, etc., to satisfy the requirements of the European clients. Rolling out of the Hoskote facility, which has an installed capacity to build 1,500 buses in one shift post the expansion – before expansion it was 800 units, these buses are also bound to reflect on Volvo’s intent to bring hybrid and electric buses to India. Said Hakan, that the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric (FAME) vehicle program marks a good initiative by the government. “We are in dialogue with the government to participate,” he added.

Interview: Akash Passey, Sr. VP – Business Region International, Volvo Buses,
and Hakan Agnevall, President, Volvo Buses.

How do you look at the India journey of Volvo Bus – from entry into India, until the European export initiative?

Volvo has been driving a revolution. It has changed the Indian bus market towards seeking fully built buses. This is akin to driving a complete bus change, and amounts to a significant development. We have stayed ahead of the competition by introducing new products. We have upgraded ourselves locally through exports. We have also benefited locally from installing new processes and methodologies. The last four years have been quite defining.

How do you see the European export initiative benefiting the Indian clients?

European regulations are different from that of the Indian regulations. The mapping that we did therefore, would also benefit our Indian clients. An example is the application of double glazed glass. In India the regulation is for the use of single glazed glass. Our Indian clients will benefit from the use of double glazed glass.

Any specific reason why you chose India over China?

We looked at a segment that is existing, and found out that we have the right competence in India. The product that we have in India is a global product. Even though it is made as an Indian product. We therefore found that the Indian footprint would make a competitive footprint. We chose India over China because of the full control over business. We also see our competitors starting to do substantial investments. We encourage competition as we feel it will promote the quality of buses in India. The Indian operations of Volvo rank among the top 10.

Now that you are beginning to export buses to Europe, are you happy with the quality of the suppliers here?

Let me put it differently. Customer expectations are growing, and it was natural to address them. So we acquired vendors as part of our acquisition of the body building business. We are generally happy with our suppliers in India.

In India there were some accidents involving Volvo buses. Has this prompted any change?

We are working with the authorities to address the legal issues. When an accident happens, the government looks into it. At our end, we have a global team that looks into it. We took Indian accidents quite seriously. We designed a coach concept to have options that are also found in other markets. We are also offering options as per active regulations. We are a global company and offer
global solutions.

There have been experiments in the area of buses powered by alternate fuels. Are you also looking at an alternative to fossil fuel?

We did an analysis, which showed that future driveline sustainability will stem from electric solutions. It had to be less polluting and more efficient. We looked at hybrid, which we are producing since 2009. We have delivered 5,000 hybrid and fully electric buses. Under the hybrid portfolio we also looked at electric hybrid. We recently introduced a full-electric bus at Gothenburg in Sweden. Electric solutions will gradually take over as a urban mobility source for reducing CO2 emissions, noise, etc. Electric solutions are confined to infrastructure. Hybrid therefore looks like a sustainable infrastructure. Three cornerstones for us include hybrid, hybrid-electric and electric. We are offering battery per km cost so that the customers know, and we want to create common infrastructure. We have sold hybrids all over the world. We are trying them in parts of Asia. We are in dialogue with the government to participate. We believe that some of our competitors are also trying new solutions. Some of these may have failed to find sustenance in
other markets.