We help customers make CVs more comfortable and safe.

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Article by: Team CV

Jacques Esculier, Chairman & CEO, Wabco Holdings Inc.

As part of the Prima T1 racing, what do you hope to derive?

I think that this truck racing event is a good way to promote the CV industry. It is a good way to bring before the public the achievements of this industry. It is a major pillar in the economic growth of the country. It is difficult to see a country flourish without an efficient transportation system. Participation in such an event also allows us to highlight breakthrough technologies that help commercial vehicles become more efficient during their operation. We are contributing largely to this by featuring a new ABS system that has been mandated by the government. The date of enforcement being April 1, 2015, for new trucks, and October 2015 for the existing trucks. I think it is a fantastic step forward. India has one per cent of the total commercial vehicles in the world. However eight per cent of the world’s fatalities occur in India. ABS is a major cornerstone to enhance safety. It is exactly the reason why it has been featuring on the trucks today.

Apart from scarcity of drivers, there is a need for skilled drivers who understand new technologies. How do you see India coming to have such drivers?

We want to make technology more accessible. We are helping our customers make CVs that are more comfortable and safe for the drivers. More than 50 per cent of accidents happen due to loss of control of the truck. 28 per cent fatalities out of 50 per cent accidents happen in India. Overall it is a fairly dangerous job, and it is very complicated too as it involves dealing with various complex machines. We are making it safer for the driver as we work with OEMs. Our technologies also make CVs more attractive for drivers. We will be making it more comfortable and easier to drive for the driver by providing AMT (Automated Manual Transmission), an electronic system which you can put on the top of your manual system. It is a breakthrough not only in India but across the world. Apart from saving five per cent fuel, it also saves the driver from regular shifting of gears. Saves the driver from effort and training. This allows him or her to concentrate better on the road. The electronically controlled air suspension that we offer, makes the vehicle more comfortable. It also saves fuel by optimising the way the load on the axles is distributed. For example, there are trucks today, which have double driving axles. We have one driving axle instead of two. When the truck starts we can transfer load on that particular axle by using this air suspension to distribute the load. This is the technology that we are bringing in along with driver assistance technologies. For commercial vehicles, we were the first supplier to bring these systems; the collision mitigation systems, lane departure system or the drowsiness warning system. Early in the morning on freeways, both collision mitigation system and drowsiness warning can be of much help. We sold over 1,00,000 units of our ‘Onguard’ collision mitigation systems. All those who have equipped their trucks with these systems in the US have already validated that they have seen more than 80 per cent avoidance of rear end collision, which is the biggest source of accidents.

Do you see any limitation in using these technologies in India? Issues like roads limiting the axle load carrying capacity?

You cannot compensate for the limitation unless you take out weight from the truck. We are also contributing to make trucks lighter. Though not in India, we have introduced a new material to reduce the weight of the compressor by 50 per cent, which can be up to 30 kg. We have innovated by designing the lightest air disc brakes so far in the world. As this industry will gradually adopt air disc brakes, we will certainly offer that innovation for making the truck lighter. I feel the government here is very committed towards improving the infrastructure, which will surely support the economic growth in the country.

But there is a trend that people want to go for bigger trucks that can have better payload capacity yet be as cost effective as a smaller truck?

If the infrastructure allows, it is better to have bigger, long haul trucks than smaller long haul ones as the former maximise weight and have better payload capacity. Around the hub you really don’t need those large trucks but for hub itself you can’t do without big long haul trucks.

Considering Europe’s well defined hub and spoke model, how do you see the same evolving in India, and how will that help a supplier to grow along with the OEMs?

Infrastructure of the industry itself is yet to mature in terms of having larger fleets. You need to have spokes (the network) in the hub and spoke model. You need to simplify what it takes to move from one region to another and not having to stop for paying taxes. This country will progressively mature and match with the other areas of the world, which have progressed in terms of infrastructure in the logic of optimising the transportation of goods and thereby the usage of commercial vehicles. We are here to provide all the support and technologies that will be required.

In India, you command a good share of the CV braking system market. ABS is also in. AMT however is yet to be addressed. How long will it take?

If you look at Europe, it is ahead of other markets in adapting technologies in commercial vehicles. Close to 80 per cent of the trucks in Europe use AMT. For years, the US market did not adapt to this technology. Around 3-4 years ago, the US market started adapting. It recognised the value of two things, fuel consumption and shortage of drivers. The two were making it very complicated to execute the work they had. By short cutting the training and eliminating the very difficult part of shifting gears, it has unleashed a lot of hope. The payback time of AMT is proving to be six months, which is a very short payback time. We respect the time a market takes to mature, and gain awareness. The first area where AMTs will penetrate well is in city buses. It is a very economical way of enhancing fuel consumption and makes it easier for the drivers. It will progressively gain space over what has been going on in Europe, US and Brazil. Indeed, AMT was invented by Wabco in 1986 for Mercedes-Benz. Another technology is the Electronically Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS) branded by the name of ‘Optiride’ that we are bringing into India. This is a highly adopted technology in Europe. We have an ECU that optimises pressure in the air bellows that are a part of the truck’s air suspension. The suspension is also load sensitive, and speed sensitive. As the truck gains speed, it can be lowered to ensure better aerodynamic efficiency, and save fuel. It also offers kneeling for buses to make them user friendly for disabled people.

You mentioned that AMT will be seen in buses first. What about automatics being claimed to be the best solutions for buses?

When compared to AMT, Automatic Transmissions (AT) are extremely heavy. We are replacing them in city buses. AMTs allow flexibility in the production of CVs because they just sit on the top of a manual transmission. So a manufacturer can decide whether his transmission will be manual or AMT. Economical in terms of acquisition, the cost of an AMT is incredibly low. It also consumes less fuel than automatics. One of our customers has saved 10 per cent fuel by using AMT in the city buses. AMT is largely dominating in Europe, which I think is the most advanced industry for commercial vehicles. I also think of it as a good point of reference. Wabco already works with customers like Volvo, Daimler and ZF transmission. We are also working with Fast Gear in China, which is the largest transmission manufacturer in the world, and with China National Heavy Duty Truck Group Co. Ltd. (CNHTC) which has its own transmission business.

Your AMT is already in the Indian market?

Our AMT is found on the Ashok Leyland Janbus, which is already plying in Kolkata.

Collision mitigation system will enhance the safety of CVs. For a cost sensitive market like India, what is your application road-map for such technologies?

Even though what we bring to China and India is an adaptation of what (technology) we have developed for US or European market, we respect the specific application of the market and we just can’t take the product off-the-shelf and sell it in various markets. We have been working hard to find a cost level and specifications that would be acceptable to India for collision mitigation system. It is not certainly desirable in the city traffic because here in India, you are always prone to a collision due to heavy traffic. So you may need a different kind of functionality depending upon the speed itself. This is the work that we are doing right now to provide the best optimised system that will benefit the Indian market.

How involved are the India operations in the development of such systems?

The ‘Optidrive’ system is modular in nature, and was developed specifically for the emerging markets. When you look at what we develop for Volvo and Daimler, it needs five years of development, and is extremely expensive and tailor made. They can amortise it as they produce huge amounts of gearboxes and they equip all of them with AMTs. So, the volume is high. You may not have such an application in a country like India where the volumes are a lot lower. The development costs are heavier and can’t be managed specifically for each gearbox by optimising and tailoring the design. So we came up with this idea of a modular system that shortened the adaption system and was less expensive. In-turn, it became accessible for Ashok Leyland and CNHTC in China. This design was built by Indians, Chinese and Germans. The software was developed in India and we have more than half of our total software developments being carried out at Chennai. The product development concept of Wabco is around two major pillars. One is in Germany. Historically Europeans have been offered new technologies that did not contain the concept of optimising the design. You want to be the number one in emerging markets, and it is India that is optimising technology. There’s not one new product that we develop in Germany, which is not reviewed by the Indians. The products we had designed long time ago are redesigned for India. More than 30 per cent of Wabco employees are in India, which is also the largest employer of Wabco work force. So, India is the centre piece of the entire strategy.

The transport minister has been pushing for alternate propulsion mediums. Scania has an ethanol bus running in India. There’s the BYD electric bus in Bangalore. Do you see scope for such technologies to reach a practical level?

We are accompanying this trend, and provide two things. One is an electric air compressor. If you stop the compression engine in a hybrid system, it will still compress the air. So we have an electrically powered compressor. The second fundamental thing is you have to manage your energy extremely efficiently. You have to figure out how you are going to absorb that energy without challenging the safety of the vehicle. We have invented EBS system in CVs and we have been developing the EBS system for manufacturers who are developing those hybrid systems or electrical systems. The hybrid concept is very attractive, and is the focus of most of the countries. However it is still very challenging in terms of pricing returns. It has to be subsidised, and if you don’t do it, it will be very complicated to have a financial equation that allows it to flourish. The problem is with batteries which need replacement. They are extremely expensive. So there is an upfront cost, then maintenance cost and operational cost which is heavy.

Nextmotive breaks cover

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act enacted by the Government of India in 2006 defines a Small and Medium scale Enterprise (SME) as the one whose investment in plant and machinery exceeds Rs. 25 lakh, but not beyond Rs. 5 crore. In case of a medium scale enterprise, the investment in plant and machinery exceeds Rs. 5 crore, but not beyond Rs. 10 crore. In an obscure lane on the road to Lavasa from Pune, an SME called Conex AvioAuto Pvt. Ltd. is located. It is claimed to be the third largest commercial tool room in the country. Commencing operations in 1999, it traces its origin to Nexus A.E.S., which was established in 1991, to sell machine tools and service them. Providing turnkey engineering and manufacturing solutions for the sheet metal industry, which include Body-In-White (BIW) engineering projects for Ashok Leyland’s G90 cabin and the TVS three-wheeler body, Conex AvioAuto has also catered to the needs of CV makers and tractor manufacturers like Tata Motors, Mahindra, John Deere, Force Motors and Piaggio. 
Conex AvioAuto’s ability to offer sheet metal engineering solutions to OEMs had its founder and managing director, Avinash Belgamwar (also the MD of Nextmotive Pvt. ltd.)dream of making an automobile. To become an OEM. Revealed Avinash Belgamwar, “As a tool room we face ups and downs. We saw it as an opportunity to work on other fronts. We thought of producing sub-assemblies for tier 1 suppliers. We gave up the thought after it was found that their margins were on a decline.” “It was at a meeting in 2005, which we decided to hold in the open at Sinhagad fort, to chalk out a road map for the next five-to-six years, that a plan to produce an automobile took shape,” he added. The plan to produce an automobile was also helped by the comment of an Italian friend that was playing on Avinash’s mind. On a business visit to Pune, Avinash’s friend did not seem to like the state of the diesel passenger three-wheelers. To him they looked unsafe, unrefined and polluting. “We chose a four-wheeler over a three-wheeler. We undertook such an activity because we felt that we had the knowhow, and because we had the right people. We approached NID, Ahmedabad for styling,” mentioned Avinash. 

Work began in earnest with the establishment of Nextmotive Motors Pvt. Ltd. in 2005 as a subsidiary of Conex AvioAuto. An SME embarked on the journey to become an OEM. “We went slowly as we did not want to take chances. The ladder frame of the first prototype comprising rectangular and tubular sections was made in-house. The development team included Karam Singh, N S Babu, YSP Rao and R M Srivastava as consultants. Karam Singh brought with him the experience of developing prototypes at Tata Motors. Design chief, N S Babu having retired as Tata Motors’ ERC head, took upon himself to guide the design team, including styling and design of dies, fixtures, components, etc. YSP Rao brought with him the expertise to design cabins. R M Srivastava brought with him the experience of testing and certification of vehicles, having worked with Tata Motors earlier. He co-ordinated with ARAI for certification and variant type approval activities. “We went to ARAI in 2011 and got the approval in the first go. Frontal crash test, roof crush test, etc.,” said Belgamwar. Three products have emerged over the years of work (a fourth model, a 2-tonne truck named Alite is in the pipeline). Avia with a 1.25-tonne payload is at the beta stage of development, and is powered by a 2-litre Isuzu derived 55 hp diesel engine from Avtec. This engine, according to Avinash, was used in the Hindustan Motors Winner. In Avia, the engine is placed longitudinally with the drive going to the rear through a (American axle supplied) live axle. Front includes a unique twin strut suspension that is being patented. A BS4 diesel engine of Peugeot lineage is also under consideration.

The smallest, the Atom, with a 0.88-tonne payload, is powered by a 510cc, single-cylinder 10 hp diesel engine from Greaves Cotton. The main stay is the Across. Available in two variants, HD and 870Di, like the Atom, it is a front-wheel drive design. A transversely located 871cc, 2-cylinder direct-injection 17 hp diesel engine from Greaves Cotton (found on Piaggio Ape Truk earlier) routes power through a 5-speed manual gearbox and a transaxle. The engine is a bit noisy. However, an amount of work on NVH in co-ordination with ARAI according to Pramod Shashtry, General Manager – Sales and Marketing, Nextmotive Pvt. Ltd., has ensured that not much of it filters into the cabin. Vibrations are well contained.

The engine’s location under the seat has ensured that the cabin is spacious, and with an accompanying sense of room. Any difference in power delivery or response over the rear-wheel drive Ace is not noticeable. We drove the Across on the hilly road to Lavasa (see box). The drive would also help to better understand what Avinash claimed, that the front-wheel drive design of the Across and Atom curbs transmission losses and aids packaging. Also ensures good response and superior fuel efficiency. ver the Across and the Atom, the Avia will get ‘power’ brakes and power steering. Supporting the three products are tier suppliers like Gabriel, JK Tyre, Apollo Tyres, Exide, Bosch, Rane Madras and Rane TRW, K G Foam, Pricol etc. Stating that he has put his experience of batch production to work in this project, which he learnt while working on the T70 tank at Chennai, Avinash explained that they had a big debate about the drive orientation. A conclusion was drawn that up to 1,000 kg GVW, it does not make a difference if the vehicle is a front-wheel drive or a rear-wheel drive. “Front-wheel drive improves fuel efficiency. We also looked at the French vans, which are mostly front-wheel drive designs,” said Belgamwar. Homologation of Atom and Avia is yet to take place.

Due to commonality of parts, it should not take long expressed Avinash. All three share the same cabin. The loading trays differ in dimensions, and are, like the cab and chassis, made on the same line. All three, the chassis, cab and tray are made in-house. Nextmotive has invested in laser welding solutions, leveraging its ability to provide BIW solutions to OEMs. While Atom and Across share the frame, except for dimensional changes, the frame of Avia is different. Atom and Across run on 12-inch dia. wheels whereas the Avia runs on 14-inch dia. wheels. 

The production facility is a mix of line layout and a functional layout. One look at the production facility, and it is clear, that the next step is expand-ability. The next challenge thus would be to expand successfully. The investment according to Avinash on this project is Rs. 50 crore. Supporting the project is a design team that is based at the company’s design centre at Amravati. Avinash opined that it is the high attrition rate at locations like Pune, which drove him to his hometown Amravati to set up a design centre there. Subjected to a grueling test schedule of over three lakh km before going to ARAI for homologation, the SCVs were supported by the design centre. The design centre also supported changes, big and small, to ensure that the end result was a robust product. Apart from the export markets of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the Across is finding its way into newer markets of Africa. Over 120 units have been imported till date to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Orders for customised vehicles (including a passenger carrier and a mobile canteen) are being addressed too. Explained Avinash, “We went to the export markets first as we wanted to prove ourselves. Success in these markets would give us the confidence to enter the Indian market.” 
Aware that the Indian market is a demanding market, in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Nextmotive entered into an arrangement with distributors
that also market Hero MotoCorp and Eicher products. The Sri Lankan distributor is a Parsi gentleman called Tito. He drove the Across for an amount of time. Only after he was satisfied did he give a plan for 30o units over a period of five to six months. This would amount to 3 per cent market share in a 1,000 unit strong Sri Lankan SCV market. As an SME, to manufacture a vehicle is a brave attempt. To think of making it grow is by no means less challenging. Avinash is keen to see the numbers climb up to 500 units per year. This will amount to five per cent of the market share in Sri Lanka. The next step would be to capture a 10 per cent market share. Stating that the Mahindra Maxximo is giving a tough fight to the Tata Ace in Sri Lanka, Avinash opined that specific application vehicles is what his company is comfortable doing (at the factory level) rather than pursue volumes. The takt time of 30 minutes for each station is indicative of this stratergy. 

Claiming that the body and chassis are subjected to CED coating, which makes them salt spray resistant for 800 hours, Avinash averred, “Even the bodies and frames of custom application vehicles are CED coated.” He added, “Since we provide customised solutions at the factory level, the buyer does not have to deal with corrosion issues resulting from aftermarket activity.” For its dealers (and distributors), Nextmotive has developed a software for part numbers and drawings. They have been advised to stock a minimum inventory of two sets. Well aware of the growing aspirations and expectations of the owner-operator buyer of an SCV, Nextmotive will be entering the Indian market in this fiscal. As it makes a successful foray, areas like aesthetics, fit-finish, etc., would have been looked into, and addressed. This would also include the suppliers, and their ability to support the project. Apart from expand-ability, Nextmotive is working towards constructing a robust marketing and support network. Avinash and his team are inclined to not leave a single stone unturned to realise their dream. That of turning into an automotive OEM from an SME.

The first impression is of the vehicle being tall. The ground clearance of Across, at 220 mm, is claimed to be more than that of the market leader Ace. Climbing into the seat, from behind the wheel, the driver is greeted to a good view ahead. The minimalist dashboard with a centrally mounted instrument cluster fails to impress. The inconsistent panel gaps may not matter much to a CV buyer, but will need to be addressed nevertheless. The driving position is high and comfortable, and accompanies a feeling of the cab being roomy and airy. Turn the key and the BS3 direct injection motor wakes up to emit a distinct diesel clatter. It is loud no doubt, though not very intrusive considering the current offerings in the category. First and second cogs are very tall and ensure take-off rather than achieve good speed. Third gear is where some speed is achieved, followed by more speed achieved in the fourth gear. Third and fourth gears offer a good combination of speed and the ability to lug. There was hardly any steam by the time the fifth gear was engaged on a hilly stretch of road. This cog could however help in achieving good efficiency on level roads. 

During the drive, the Across came across as a dandy and comfortable SCV. It behaved well over some of the broken roads in the region we subjected it to, displaying a good ability to tackle the undulations without resulting in an utterly inferior ride. It responded well to the inputs, and the fact that it is a front-wheel drive, did not make for a noticeable difference in the way the power was routed to the wheels. The way 40 Nm of torque was put to use. Evoking a feeling of being modern and well-engineered even though there is a need to work upon factors like aesthetics, features, and fit and finish, the first impression was positive. The braking feel, comprising discs at front and drums at the rear, was progressive. The ‘non-powered’ steering felt light and precise, and even at speeds in the region of
50 kmph. The top speed of this SCV is 70 kmph. If the pictures draw a similarity with the Tata Ace, in actual, subtle styling differences make the Across look different. 

As mentioned at the onset, the Across looks bigger than it really is, and with an ability to deliver more load. Getting under the skin of the Across reveals that the two – Ace and Across, are quite different even though they are aiming at the same category. Ace has a rear-wheel drive mechanical configuration. Across has a front-wheel drive layout. Powering the Ace is a 16 hp, 702 cc two-cylinder in-direct injection diesel engine positioned longitudinally. The Across’ 17 hp engine is of the direct-injection variety and located transversely. Claimed to have a near 50:50 weight distribution over the two axles, the Across, parked besides the Ace surprisingly does not look as big or burly. It is perhaps the expanse of the windscreen and its curvature that makes it look big. Also, unlike the Ace, turning the key to the off position does not kill the engine of the Across. A lever on the dashboard has to be pulled. It is a distinct reminder of the fact that a direct-injection diesel engine is located under the seats. 

We provide solutions that double the drain interval. Pablo Conrad, Global Brand Manager, Mobil Delvac, Exxon Mobil.

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Article by: Rajesh Rajgor
Is Mobil Delvac the only commercial vehicle lube brand from Exxon Mobil among the vast range of lubes you offer?

We are celebrating the 90th year of Mobil Delvac globally. The brand came into existence on February 17, 1925, in the United States of America. Since we relate all our products to the needs of the consumer, Mobil Delvac was positioned as a diesel engine lubricant. The name Delvac stands for Diesel Engine Lubricant from Vacuum Oil Company. Vacuum Oil Company was our heritage company. Starting experiments with different base oils and additives and adapting them to meet the regulations of different markets is how the Mobile Delvac brand came to find a place for itself the world over. We introduced the Mobil Delvac brand in India more than 20 years ago. We also introduced other products for commercial vehicles.

What changes have your products been subjected to for meeting the changing needs and regulations since you entered India?

As a global player, our products are designed to work in different weather conditions. In markets like Egypt, South America, part of South East Asia, China and Australia, where the climate is warm, we enjoy a stronghold. Similarly, we also enjoy a good hold in cold climate countries like Canada, Russia, Europe and USA. We have thus a wide range of products that suit the different needs of the consumer in different parts of the world. We collaborate with companies like Volvo, Daimler, and MAN. In the off-highway segment we collaborate with companies like Caterpillar. In India we have come to collaborate with Tata Motors for the use of our gear oils and axle oils in their trucks. We are also collaborating with Tata Motors for heavy duty and light duty commercial vehicle applications. We have recently got an order for one of the lines of their light commercial vehicles. Apart from collaborating with OEMs and addressing their needs, we also keep an eye on the needs of the market. We ensure that our products meet the expectations of the market. We exceed what API (American Petroleum Institute) asks us to do. With the ability to develop cutomised solutions for OEMs, a division in our company, specialising in research and engineering, works on different product combinations. This helps us to follow market trends, innovate, research and progress. Not in isolation, but in the company of manufacturers and other stakeholders. It also helps us to understand the changing needs and changing technologies.

Is the Mobil Delvac you offer

in India, mineral based or synthetic based?

Mobil Delvac is aimed at heavy duty vehicles. The flagship product, Mobil Delvac 1, employs synthetic technology, which ensures better fuel economy and protection to engine parts. This oil also extends the drain interval. Mobil Delvac MX addresses most of the demands in the Indian market along with gear oils, axle oils and Mobil brand of greases the company offers. We are also looking at the off-highway segment in India and anticipate a significant growth in this area. As the energy demands grow, the need for better roads and infrastructure will also grow. Two factors will drive it: Rise in population and economical growth. We expect the population to grow by two billion, and much of it will come from India. The transport industry will have to meet this demand. Our global experience in lubes and the ability as well as the knowledge of working with CV sector stakeholders will help us offer the right solutions to consumers.

How would you describe the long oil drain interval of your product?

We tend to exceed the specifications mentioned for normal performance. Whether it is a mineral oil manufactured by Exxon Mobil with the best possible combination of base oils and additives or synthetic oils. With the ability and knowledge gained from working with OEMs and others in the industry, we are capable of offering a bumper-to-bumper solution. So, it is not just engine oils, but also the gear oils, greases and other lubricants. Our engineers work with maintenance managers of our clients; with those that are in charge of their fleet. In US for instance, we work with large companies. Similarly, in India, we work with large fleet operators. We understand their transport needs, their duty cycles, the way their drivers care for their vehicles, the diesel they burn (use) and then provide solutions to them from our product portfolio.

Do you think synthetic based oils will gather importance over mineral-based oils?

Our approach is to give customers what they want. If they are demanding mineral products we will give them that. If they want to optimise the fuel economy and want to prolong their engine life we have synthetic solutions for them.

How different are the needs of the aftermarket, and how do you address them?

We have a large network of distributors covering a large territory. We invest in them. Educate them so that the aftermarket demands are adequately met. We have a network of what we call RDC distribution (Remote Distribution Center) across the nation.

How do you plan to retain the customer by offering him long drain interval lubes?

The fact that we offer solutions that double the drain interval will make the customer come back to us. The good experience with our long drain lubes will be shared by him or her with others. This is certain to help our business grow. These lubes will also help reduce fuel consumption. If the customer demands, we can provide solutions that ensure a drain period that is longer than what is being offered in the market. We are here for a long run. We are patient, and not worried about achieving results overnight. We appreciate the enormous opportunity the Indian market is providing us.

What is Exxon Mobil’s goal in terms of market penetration and share in India?

We would like to grow our business as much as possible. Much the same as we have the world over. We are one of the leading marketers of oils and lubricants for transporters globally. We want to replicate that in India.

Do you have your R&D and blending facility here in India?

We have a joint venture plant (blending facility) near Mumbai. It is like a third party blending facility. We cater to the Indian market through this plant and our distribution network.

What quantity do you produce in India?

I will not be able to tell you the numbers. What I would tell you instead is that we want to grow in the Indian market through the initial offerings that we have.

Considering your products to be at the premium end, how do you hope to attract the cost conscious Indian buyers?

We believe that the customer understands and appreciates the value our lubes provide, and how they reduce the total cost of operations (to run their CVs). Having said that, we bring the best possible product for this market and we communicate that accordingly. So we get involved in marketing campaigns, programs, educational programs for our distributors.

Please elaborate on the marketing and educational programs you conduct for the distributors

We have a Mobil Delvac initiative named ‘Udaan’. It is aimed at educating and creating awareness on safety, lubrication fundamentals and inventory management by providing training to Mobil retailers and mechanics. The intention is to help customers achieve excellence in their businesses. Udaan offers trade partners and associates an opportunity to understand how to handle critical workshop and vehicle maintenance situations where safety is always a concern. These training sessions cover personal and workshop safety, lubrication best practices and the application of technology excellence in Mobil branded lubricants. Such initiatives help the entire industry and country as we save fuel by taking better care of the vehicles we drive.

“We are well equipped for upcoming regulations, both in terms of product as well as pricing.”

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Article by: Team CV

Ravi Kirpalani, Managing Director, Castrol India Ltd.

You have introduced the Vecton RX fuel saver. What went into its development?

The product has been under research for four years now. We started with our R&D facility in Pangbourne, UK. The idea was to develop a fuel efficient oil, suited to Indian conditions, certifiable by Tata Motors. This product set is actually the first that any truck OEM, anywhere in the world is endorsing for fuel efficiency. The testing has also been done at our Wadala (Mumbai) center. We have conducted a large number of on-road trials, and are delighted to say that we have brought it under our ‘Vecton’ brand which is our global brand. It is Castrol’s most premium CV oil brand. It is unique in the sense that it has ‘System 5’ technology which allows it to do a number of things at the same time. It has better fuel efficiency, longer drain intervals of 60,000 km; offers better protection, low top up and gives more power as well. Normally these are the things which you have to trade off against one another. For the ‘RX fuel saver’ variant under the ‘Vecton’ brand, we have co-engineered with Tata Motors. The oil offers three per cent better fuel efficiency, which is a big thing for a truck driver. If he drives his truck for more than one-lakh km per year, the RX fuel saver oil will help him save around Rs. 40,000 per truck, which is very significant. Part of the fact is, this oil also offers environmental benefits by having lower consumption of hydrocarbons in it, which is also very significant.

We believe this will be available for every OEM and not be limited for Tata vehicles even though they may have endorsed it?

‘Vecton’ brand will be available as any other Castrol brand. But we are not planning to get into a relationship with any other OEM for the ‘RX Super max fuel saver’. It is exclusively for Tata Motors. We may sell it in our own channel as well so that we can go beyond their reach but it will still remain exclusively for Tata in the market.

Castrol has been emphasising on sporting activities in India. What is the motive behind it?

I think it is because of a couple of things. For example, you look at our sponsorship for cricket. India has a big chunk of population whose families have no history of automobile ownership. We need to find ways to keep connecting with these people, who are also first-time users. Castrol has been around for more than 100 years and given the amount of passion India has for cricket, I think it is a great way to establish connection with such users. Broadly, our relationship with sport is based on the commonality of values. It is about high performance in difficult conditions and passion for winning. It is also about testing in the most challenging environments. Secondly, beyond cricket, the big excitement will be the project called bloodhound. It is a project where a team of people have got together to build special vehicle that will try and break the land speed record of 1,000 kmph. The plan is slated for sometime in the later part of this year, in South Africa. Castrol is a sponsor. I think, it makes a good fit for us.

Tata looks keen to project truck racing as a romantic activity, also addressing the problem of scarcity of drivers. How do you look at the sporting activity?

When Tata Motors started this last year, a lot of people would have been skeptical about the possibility of such race happening. But now I can see an aura building at the circuit. I think it is truly visionary as they are trying to make truck and truck racing glamorous in India. We have been partnering with Tata for three decades now; we have co-engineered oils. We have worked with them to improve safety. I think therefore that this race is yet another way to build further our existing relationship with them.

As a part of the ecosystem, what reforms do you see Castrol driving into the CV sector?

It is the strength of the relationship that we have. We started our journey 10 years ago when we began to specify the hardware. Earlier there was not even a seat for the co-driver (in a truck). He used to sit on a stool. A decade ago, for our sales people, we went to Tata Motors to get cars equipped with ABS and airbags. Tata created 200 Indica cars for us. Similarly for the trucks, we created a minimum standard safety truck with Tata Motors, which today in the industry is called as Castrol truck. Even today fleet operators go to Tata and often ask for similar specifications. There is a lot we can do to make our roads safer. Even though we are not a workshop specialist, we have been asked by dealerships to help them. For this, we created a workshop safety manual. This we are rolling out to all the dealerships and workshops, to train them in basic precautionary measures. We will also work towards getting people interested in taking up the driving profession, as well as help drivers enhance their driving skills.

In terms of environment, the industry is moving to BS IV emission norms. There’s also the talk of skipping one standard and moving to the next. As a lube manufacturer, how do you look at this?

Castrol is a global brand and we are already equipped with technologies that are applicable in more developed parts of the world. We also have a technology centre in India. If we talk about Vecton, the 10W40 viscometrics oil is the first that we have brought into India though it is still not synthetic but a high grade mineral oil with CI4+ specifications. If you look at the viscometrics for trucks, it used to be 20W40, which later on got to 15W40. We also have 5W40, which is semi synthetic oil. We also have 0W40 oils that are going for trucks. Also, Lubrizol is here with which we have a great partnership as an additives manufacturer. So, we are well equipped for upcoming regulations, both in terms of product as well as pricing.

What role does the Wadala R&D centre plays in local development?

We have moved our global R&D for motorcycles to India. So any R&D for motorcycle oils applicable anywhere in the world are developed in India. Most of the two-wheeler owners in the developed markets use it for leisure. In India, a two-wheeler is an important mode of transportation. The market size here is massive. It is close to 100 million. Clearly, Asia is going to be the future for two-wheeler market growth. It makes sense bringing technology here. Though we don’t do global developments for CV and passenger cars here, we do everything here to support local needs.

You have a blending facility in India. Are you looking at further expansion in India?

I think in terms of a facility, what we have is enough. We need to upgrade these facilities however. Our Silvasa plant is now TS16949 certified, which is required by automotive OEMs. A lot of international OEMs are looking at India as a manufacturing hub including Ford, Volkswagen, JLR and also BMW. Since we have already been a supplier to many of these OEMs, it is important that we upgrade our facilities to meet the rising demand. We also have an engagement centre there. It enables us to bring the technology live for our customers. Consider Magnatec for example. We sell this product for cars. It allows a thin film of oil that remains stuck to all parts of the engine and reduces engine wear and tear by 75 per cent.

How much of your business in India comes from CV?

Nearly two-third of the industry in volumes is from CV. It contributes to 60 per cent of our volumes.

Are you looking at any co-branding of oils with OEMs?

There are some OEMs which want lubricants in their own brand. There are also some who are happy to recommend Castrol. There are those who are looking out for co-branding of lubes. We are looking at all models as long as it makes sense for both Castrol and OEMs to come together.

Is the need for OEMs and engine manufacturer to collaborate with oil companies growing?

It makes sense as technology is changing very fast. The government is legislating that tail pipe emissions should be controlled; engine manufacturers also need to change their metallurgy. So they also find it useful to co-engineer.

Does that entail a lot of investment for both? How does it reflect in the mid and the long term?

We are in this business to build long term partnerships. It is very important to co-engineer products as you get to understand the partner and the technology deployed on the engine which allows us to have great insights to develop right kind of oils so we are ready to invest there as well.

What kind of a role does fuel play?

I think the fuel quality norms are being laid down as well. There is also the problem of sulphur content variation and adulteration of fuel. Everything is kept in mind when the lubricants are designed. Vecton is very good at soot dispersal which generally arises during the burning of fuel and often creates a problem to maintain lubrication in the engine. We are also looking at the possibility of marketing fuel additives apart from lubricants to improve the quality of fuel. We have developed a product which is in the testing stages for cars.

Do you hope to make these additives in India or are they already available globally?

It is very new for us and we are looking at it. Testing is going on. We have done it in China and a little bit in India.

What future do you see for alternate propulsion mediums like ethanol and biogas?

We have seen such developments in some parts of the world. It is not such a massive global movement. We are watching, and I think it is a complex question. You have to look at the totality of it before you can take a call. The work at our end has started but it will call for a completely different kind of lubricants. Considering the kind of temperature they will be operating in.

How do you look at the competition in the CV stream?

India is one of the most competitive markets in the world. There are more than 30 to 40 brands and hundreds of local operators.

Are you also planning to export RX Fuel Saver?

Not initially. When Tata exports its trucks, we will be with them. At the moment however, it will be for India only. and web page.

Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group & Vehicle Access Systems Technology Llc (VAST), USA enter into a Joint Venture – “Minda VAST”

Global Automotive Component manufacturer  Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group has entered into a Joint Venture partnership with “Vehicle Access Systems Technology Llc.(VAST)”, USA, a group with a global presence as valued supplier of strategic vehicle access components and systems to targeted global customers and known for “Key solutions for automotive world”.
This joint venture entity between two groups named as Minda VAST Access Systems Private Limited (“Minda VAST”) will have operations in Pune and Delhi-NCR.
VAST, USA is a highly qualified, global supplier of security/ access control products for the motor vehicle industry. It will support to the Joint Venture for – the locksets, steering column locks, latches, strikers, socket bows, handles, immobilizers, passive entry, start systems, ignition switches, hinges, power access etc. With approx. 1.2 bn USD in sales and around 8,000 employees, VAST is one of the global market leaders in the access systems business.
The manufacturing facilities are based at Germany, Mexico, Czech Republic, US, China and Brazil. The Group is an alliance of three Member Organizations and related operating entities that is directed by a single management team in order to effectively serve global customers. The Member Organizations of VAST are WITTE Automotive from Velbert/ Germany, STRATTEC Security Corporation from Milwaukee/ WI and ADAC Automotive from Grand Rapids/ MI (both USA).
The Joint Venture is a 50:50 partnership between VAST Group and Minda Management Services Limited, an affiliate of Minda Corporation Limited and Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group of New Delhi, India. The new collaboration is expected to further strengthen the partnership between the two groups.
Mr. Ashok Minda, GCEO, Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group said, “We are delighted to have partnered with VAST. The strategic alliance is step towards ensuring support to meet the expectation of targeted and strategic customers. VAST’s global presence will help us to reach out to more areas and expand our base & offer new technology with latest products to our Customers”. Mr Ashok Minda further commented that this Joint Venture will act as a catalyst for the future growth of Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group.
On this Joint Venture, Mr. Frank Krejci, President & CEO of STRATTEC commented: “We are very excited to join a partner with the history of success and capabilities of Spark Minda and its affiliates.  We view them as a leading company in the Indian market and they have also been very effective in playing an important role in supporting global programs.”  fc3b2a7b-16fa-43ee-bfe7-6b58541de10a_TempSmall

“We are well equipped for upcoming regulations, both in terms of product as well as pricing.”

Article by: Team CV

Ravi Kirpalani, Managing Director, Castrol India Ltd.

You have introduced the Vecton RX fuel saver. What went into its development?

The product has been under research for four years now. We started with our R&D facility in Pangbourne, UK. The idea was to develop a fuel efficient oil, suited to Indian conditions, certifiable by Tata Motors. This product set is actually the first that any truck OEM, anywhere in the world is endorsing for fuel efficiency. The testing has also been done at our Wadala (Mumbai) center. We have conducted a large number of on-road trials, and are delighted to say that we have brought it under our ‘Vecton’ brand which is our global brand. It is Castrol’s most premium CV oil brand. It is unique in the sense that it has ‘System 5’ technology which allows it to do a number of things at the same time. It has better fuel efficiency, longer drain intervals of 60,000 km; offers better protection, low top up and gives more power as well. Normally these are the things which you have to trade off against one another. For the ‘RX fuel saver’ variant under the ‘Vecton’ brand, we have co-engineered with Tata Motors. The oil offers three per cent better fuel efficiency, which is a big thing for a truck driver. If he drives his truck for more than one-lakh km per year, the RX fuel saver oil will help him save around Rs. 40,000 per truck, which is very significant. Part of the fact is, this oil also offers environmental benefits by having lower consumption of hydrocarbons in it, which is also very significant.

We believe this will be available for every OEM and not be limited for Tata vehicles even though they may have endorsed it?

‘Vecton’ brand will be available as any other Castrol brand. But we are not planning to get into a relationship with any other OEM for the ‘RX Super max fuel saver’. It is exclusively for Tata Motors. We may sell it in our own channel as well so that we can go beyond their reach but it will still remain exclusively for Tata in the market.

Castrol has been emphasising on sporting activities in India. What is the motive behind it?

I think it is because of a couple of things. For example, you look at our sponsorship for cricket. India has a big chunk of population whose families have no history of automobile ownership. We need to find ways to keep connecting with these people, who are also first-time users. Castrol has been around for more than 100 years and given the amount of passion India has for cricket, I think it is a great way to establish connection with such users. Broadly, our relationship with sport is based on the commonality of values. It is about high performance in difficult conditions and passion for winning. It is also about testing in the most challenging environments. Secondly, beyond cricket, the big excitement will be the project called bloodhound. It is a project where a team of people have got together to build special vehicle that will try and break the land speed record of 1,000 kmph. The plan is slated for sometime in the later part of this year, in South Africa. Castrol is a sponsor. I think, it makes a good fit for us.

Tata looks keen to project truck racing as a romantic activity, also addressing the problem of scarcity of drivers. How do you look at the sporting activity?

When Tata Motors started this last year, a lot of people would have been skeptical about the possibility of such race happening. But now I can see an aura building at the circuit. I think it is truly visionary as they are trying to make truck and truck racing glamorous in India. We have been partnering with Tata for three decades now; we have co-engineered oils. We have worked with them to improve safety. I think therefore that this race is yet another way to build further our existing relationship with them.

As a part of the ecosystem, what reforms do you see Castrol driving into the CV sector?

It is the strength of the relationship that we have. We started our journey 10 years ago when we began to specify the hardware. Earlier there was not even a seat for the co-driver (in a truck). He used to sit on a stool. A decade ago, for our sales people, we went to Tata Motors to get cars equipped with ABS and airbags. Tata created 200 Indica cars for us. Similarly for the trucks, we created a minimum standard safety truck with Tata Motors, which today in the industry is called as Castrol truck. Even today fleet operators go to Tata and often ask for similar specifications. There is a lot we can do to make our roads safer. Even though we are not a workshop specialist, we have been asked by dealerships to help them. For this, we created a workshop safety manual. This we are rolling out to all the dealerships and workshops, to train them in basic precautionary measures. We will also work towards getting people interested in taking up the driving profession, as well as help drivers enhance their driving skills.

In terms of environment, the industry is moving to BS IV emission norms. There’s also the talk of skipping one standard and moving to the next. As a lube manufacturer, how do you look at this?

Castrol is a global brand and we are already equipped with technologies that are applicable in more developed parts of the world. We also have a technology centre in India. If we talk about Vecton, the 10W40 viscometrics oil is the first that we have brought into India though it is still not synthetic but a high grade mineral oil with CI4+ specifications. If you look at the viscometrics for trucks, it used to be 20W40, which later on got to 15W40. We also have 5W40, which is semi synthetic oil. We also have 0W40 oils that are going for trucks. Also, Lubrizol is here with which we have a great partnership as an additives manufacturer. So, we are well equipped for upcoming regulations, both in terms of product as well as pricing.

What role does the Wadala R&D centre plays in local development?

We have moved our global R&D for motorcycles to India. So any R&D for motorcycle oils applicable anywhere in the world are developed in India. Most of the two-wheeler owners in the developed markets use it for leisure. In India, a two-wheeler is an important mode of transportation. The market size here is massive. It is close to 100 million. Clearly, Asia is going to be the future for two-wheeler market growth. It makes sense bringing technology here. Though we don’t do global developments for CV and passenger cars here, we do everything here to support local needs.

You have a blending facility in India. Are you looking at further expansion in India?

I think in terms of a facility, what we have is enough. We need to upgrade these facilities however. Our Silvasa plant is now TS16949 certified, which is required by automotive OEMs. A lot of international OEMs are looking at India as a manufacturing hub including Ford, Volkswagen, JLR and also BMW. Since we have already been a supplier to many of these OEMs, it is important that we upgrade our facilities to meet the rising demand. We also have an engagement centre there. It enables us to bring the technology live for our customers. Consider Magnatec for example. We sell this product for cars. It allows a thin film of oil that remains stuck to all parts of the engine and reduces engine wear and tear by 75 per cent.

How much of your business in India comes from CV?

Nearly two-third of the industry in volumes is from CV. It contributes to 60 per cent of our volumes.

Are you looking at any co-branding of oils with OEMs?

There are some OEMs which want lubricants in their own brand. There are also some who are happy to recommend Castrol. There are those who are looking out for co-branding of lubes. We are looking at all models as long as it makes sense for both Castrol and OEMs to come together.

Is the need for OEMs and engine manufacturer to collaborate with oil companies growing?

It makes sense as technology is changing very fast. The government is legislating that tail pipe emissions should be controlled; engine manufacturers also need to change their metallurgy. So they also find it useful to co-engineer.

Does that entail a lot of investment for both? How does it reflect in the mid and the long term?

We are in this business to build long term partnerships. It is very important to co-engineer products as you get to understand the partner and the technology deployed on the engine which allows us to have great insights to develop right kind of oils so we are ready to invest there as well.

What kind of a role does fuel play?

I think the fuel quality norms are being laid down as well. There is also the problem of sulphur content variation and adulteration of fuel. Everything is kept in mind when the lubricants are designed. Vecton is very good at soot dispersal which generally arises during the burning of fuel and often creates a problem to maintain lubrication in the engine. We are also looking at the possibility of marketing fuel additives apart from lubricants to improve the quality of fuel. We have developed a product which is in the testing stages for cars.

Do you hope to make these additives in India or are they already available globally?

It is very new for us and we are looking at it. Testing is going on. We have done it in China and a little bit in India.

What future do you see for alternate propulsion mediums like ethanol and biogas?

We have seen such developments in some parts of the world. It is not such a massive global movement. We are watching, and I think it is a complex question. You have to look at the totality of it before you can take a call. The work at our end has started but it will call for a completely different kind of lubricants. Considering the kind of temperature they will be operating in.

How do you look at the competition in the CV stream?

India is one of the most competitive markets in the world. There are more than 30 to 40 brands and hundreds of local operators.

Are you also planning to export RX Fuel Saver?

Not initially. When Tata exports its trucks, we will be with them. At the moment however, it will be for India only. and web page.

We provide solutions that double the drain interval. Pablo Conrad, Global Brand Manager, Mobil Delvac, Exxon Mobil.

Article by: Rajesh Rajgor
Is Mobil Delvac the only commercial vehicle lube brand from Exxon Mobil among the vast range of lubes you offer?

We are celebrating the 90th year of Mobil Delvac globally. The brand came into existence on February 17, 1925, in the United States of America. Since we relate all our products to the needs of the consumer, Mobil Delvac was positioned as a diesel engine lubricant. The name Delvac stands for Diesel Engine Lubricant from Vacuum Oil Company. Vacuum Oil Company was our heritage company. Starting experiments with different base oils and additives and adapting them to meet the regulations of different markets is how the Mobile Delvac brand came to find a place for itself the world over. We introduced the Mobil Delvac brand in India more than 20 years ago. We also introduced other products for commercial vehicles.

What changes have your products been subjected to for meeting the changing needs and regulations since you entered India?

As a global player, our products are designed to work in different weather conditions. In markets like Egypt, South America, part of South East Asia, China and Australia, where the climate is warm, we enjoy a stronghold. Similarly, we also enjoy a good hold in cold climate countries like Canada, Russia, Europe and USA. We have thus a wide range of products that suit the different needs of the consumer in different parts of the world. We collaborate with companies like Volvo, Daimler, and MAN. In the off-highway segment we collaborate with companies like Caterpillar. In India we have come to collaborate with Tata Motors for the use of our gear oils and axle oils in their trucks. We are also collaborating with Tata Motors for heavy duty and light duty commercial vehicle applications. We have recently got an order for one of the lines of their light commercial vehicles. Apart from collaborating with OEMs and addressing their needs, we also keep an eye on the needs of the market. We ensure that our products meet the expectations of the market. We exceed what API (American Petroleum Institute) asks us to do. With the ability to develop cutomised solutions for OEMs, a division in our company, specialising in research and engineering, works on different product combinations. This helps us to follow market trends, innovate, research and progress. Not in isolation, but in the company of manufacturers and other stakeholders. It also helps us to understand the changing needs and changing technologies.

Is the Mobil Delvac you offer

in India, mineral based or synthetic based?

Mobil Delvac is aimed at heavy duty vehicles. The flagship product, Mobil Delvac 1, employs synthetic technology, which ensures better fuel economy and protection to engine parts. This oil also extends the drain interval. Mobil Delvac MX addresses most of the demands in the Indian market along with gear oils, axle oils and Mobil brand of greases the company offers. We are also looking at the off-highway segment in India and anticipate a significant growth in this area. As the energy demands grow, the need for better roads and infrastructure will also grow. Two factors will drive it: Rise in population and economical growth. We expect the population to grow by two billion, and much of it will come from India. The transport industry will have to meet this demand. Our global experience in lubes and the ability as well as the knowledge of working with CV sector stakeholders will help us offer the right solutions to consumers.

How would you describe the long oil drain interval of your product?

We tend to exceed the specifications mentioned for normal performance. Whether it is a mineral oil manufactured by Exxon Mobil with the best possible combination of base oils and additives or synthetic oils. With the ability and knowledge gained from working with OEMs and others in the industry, we are capable of offering a bumper-to-bumper solution. So, it is not just engine oils, but also the gear oils, greases and other lubricants. Our engineers work with maintenance managers of our clients; with those that are in charge of their fleet. In US for instance, we work with large companies. Similarly, in India, we work with large fleet operators. We understand their transport needs, their duty cycles, the way their drivers care for their vehicles, the diesel they burn (use) and then provide solutions to them from our product portfolio.

Do you think synthetic based oils will gather importance over mineral-based oils?

Our approach is to give customers what they want. If they are demanding mineral products we will give them that. If they want to optimise the fuel economy and want to prolong their engine life we have synthetic solutions for them.

How different are the needs of the aftermarket, and how do you address them?

We have a large network of distributors covering a large territory. We invest in them. Educate them so that the aftermarket demands are adequately met. We have a network of what we call RDC distribution (Remote Distribution Center) across the nation.

How do you plan to retain the customer by offering him long drain interval lubes?

The fact that we offer solutions that double the drain interval will make the customer come back to us. The good experience with our long drain lubes will be shared by him or her with others. This is certain to help our business grow. These lubes will also help reduce fuel consumption. If the customer demands, we can provide solutions that ensure a drain period that is longer than what is being offered in the market. We are here for a long run. We are patient, and not worried about achieving results overnight. We appreciate the enormous opportunity the Indian market is providing us.

What is Exxon Mobil’s goal in terms of market penetration and share in India?

We would like to grow our business as much as possible. Much the same as we have the world over. We are one of the leading marketers of oils and lubricants for transporters globally. We want to replicate that in India.

Do you have your R&D and blending facility here in India?

We have a joint venture plant (blending facility) near Mumbai. It is like a third party blending facility. We cater to the Indian market through this plant and our distribution network.

What quantity do you produce in India?

I will not be able to tell you the numbers. What I would tell you instead is that we want to grow in the Indian market through the initial offerings that we have.

Considering your products to be at the premium end, how do you hope to attract the cost conscious Indian buyers?

We believe that the customer understands and appreciates the value our lubes provide, and how they reduce the total cost of operations (to run their CVs). Having said that, we bring the best possible product for this market and we communicate that accordingly. So we get involved in marketing campaigns, programs, educational programs for our distributors.

Please elaborate on the marketing and educational programs you conduct for the distributors

We have a Mobil Delvac initiative named ‘Udaan’. It is aimed at educating and creating awareness on safety, lubrication fundamentals and inventory management by providing training to Mobil retailers and mechanics. The intention is to help customers achieve excellence in their businesses. Udaan offers trade partners and associates an opportunity to understand how to handle critical workshop and vehicle maintenance situations where safety is always a concern. These training sessions cover personal and workshop safety, lubrication best practices and the application of technology excellence in Mobil branded lubricants. Such initiatives help the entire industry and country as we save fuel by taking better care of the vehicles we drive.