Taxi aggregator ‘ApnaCabs’ authorised by the government has come to launch its services in Mumbai. The approval from Maharashtra government has come under the ‘Call Taxi Scheme 2010’. Mumbaikars can avail of a kaali-peelitaxi or a cool cab by dialing on the hotline number or by downloading the ApnaCabs mobile application instead.Apart from every ApnaCab being tracked through Gps, a commuter of ApnaCab can also make use of a panic button for assistance in case of any untoward situation. With operations commencing in Mumbai, it is expected to soon enter the Delhi Market where100 drivers approximately have been claimed to have signed up. 500 taxis additionally are expected to be added to the existing fleet of 1,600 kaali-peeli taxis and cool cabs.
Claimed to be a 100 percent law compliantcab service, MagicSewa, a taxi start-up hasbeen launched in Delhi.Consisting of a CNG sedanfleet, Magic Sewa will employdrivers that are claimed tohave undergone a three layerverification methodology.Apart from being energyefficient, Magic Sewa isclaimed to be a 100 per centlaw compliant cab service.Said Rakesh Agarwal, CEO,Magic Sewa, that the launchof Magic Sewa is in line withour research on the need ofa having a safe commuterservice, driven by efficientdrivers, and with transparentand affordable pricing. Init’s bid to stand out, MagicSewa vehicles feature alive meter, which claims todisplay accurate prices bythe second on large screentabs, and with no surgepricing. Emphasising on theneed to address womensafety, each car has an inbuiltpanic button along witha hooter that will alert, anda back-end team to monitorthe night-rides, with claims ofenhanced security.
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Q. How is Volvo Buses employing technology and resources to enhance safety?
A. The economy is now moving in a better direction which is good for business. It is expected to continue moving in a better direction for the next three years. For Euro VI emission compliant products, we have introduced dynamic steering with which one could manoeuvre a bus with one finger. To introduce technology is not a problem for us. We have already introduced city braking systems in India as road accidents in India is a serious challenge. For this we have put in place Volvo Engage. It is a road and vehicle safety program, which in India is a very dis-aggregated effort and often carried out as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There are certain education forums but continuity is missing. A larger momentum is required, and we will catalyse partnerships in a number of areas. We are also looking at the road and safety bill; it addresses areas like vehicle specifications, spare parts, driver training, licencing, database and insurance. So we believe there are number of areas in which various industry stakeholders like NGOs, government bodies, road safety bodies, technical institutes, operators are active. We would like to assimilate from them, what are their thoughts. We would like to know what is existing in the industry and what needs to be done. All this can work together for a concrete output. In Sweden, it is called as ‘Mission Zero’, and is about having zero fatalities on the road. It is not for the lack of will, but for the lack of coming together. There is a need to mobilise the stakeholders to form an uniform opinion around specific areas.
Q. Having sold 2200 electric buses across the world since 2010, what are the plans for India?
A. As a Group, Volvo has always been very focused on electromobility. We have been among the leaders in this league since 2007. Our products have been running around the world and we have been going steady. Quality, safety and care for the environment have always been our core values at Volvo. Electromobility fits in very well. In India, we have already sold a hybrid bus in 2011-12. It was a global product that has been running successfully. In the first half of next year, we will start a pilot project based on our hybrid bus, which is made in India. This will be for the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT). We expect this project to help promote eco-friendly vehicles in India.
“We are closely involved with the Ministry of Heavy Industries for various initiatives”.
Q. A big chunk of electricity in India comes from coal, which is known to pose an environmental challenge. How do you look at this?
A. If you have buses that are creating pollution, it is spread across the city. When you are moving to electric buses, you need power. Power is sourced from coal, which sends the source of pollution outside the city. That does not mean it solves the problem. A power plant has its own regulations and treatment solutions before the smoke is given out. Once it is given out and is centralised, emissions are centralised. They are at one place and create the need to treat them at one place rather than at different places with different products. Undoubtedly coal is more polluting. The Government is however taking steps to move away to other technologies which will take time. What we are doing therefore, is to introduce hybrid buses, which have no connection with the coal plant. In the hybrid bus, an electric motor is coupled to a smaller diesel engine and the batteries get recharged while the bus is moving and when the brakes are applied. The engine is smaller as it is not used all the time. The bus gets into the electric mode when picking up passengers. Creation of pollution is avoided where the possibility of it being created is the most.
Q. What will the hybrid bus be like? What will be the local content?
A. It will be a normal, 12 m low entry bus that is customisable as per the customer specification. We are aiming at the first half of 2016 to launch the pilot bus. The body will be localised. It will be built at our plant.
Q. Government recently announced 100 smart cities. What are your thoughts on FAME and AMRUT?
A. I think electromobility is on the list of every global country including India. Most of them have already taken various measures including subsidies to encourage development and deployment of electric buses. China is one of the biggest electric bus markets in the world. India, I think, is also following through. The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) program deserves appreciation. It includes private institutional investors to bring in products which are in the range of electric mobility, and are not limited to buses. We are closely involved with the Ministry of Heavy Industries for various initiatives. Globally, we have moved on to semi-electric and pure electric buses. These buses have an external battery recharge source. Whatever the next step India needs to take, or takes, we are ready. It needs to be noted that Delhi and Beijing are at similar levels of pollution.
Q. From a technology point of view, how would you describe the CV roadmap to the future?
A. One aspect is clean air and green vehicles. The second aspect is safety. A classic example when you speak about a green vehicle is a hybrid vehicle. The one that we have developed is a serial hybrid and uses ultra-capacitors instead of Lithium-ion batteries. Ultra-capacitors have the ability to charge and discharge faster. This technology would work well with frequent start-stop usage such as in a city bus. The diesel engine can be replaced with a CNG or a LNG engine. The ultra-capacitors help the engine to operate in the most efficient way. In various test installations we saw a significant improvement in the city cycle. About Euro VI, and we have a truck that we would want to help develop a technology not at European costs but the one that would make it the right product for the Indian market. To highlight safety, we could look at the school bus we have developed. It looks at small things like the lower height first step for easy and safe ingress of pupils. Meeting roll over is not mandatory for a school bus. School bus accidents are mostly caused by a blind spot. In our school bus, we have ensured that the driver has superior visibility on the co-driver side. We have put a collision warning system. We utilised technology to come up with an anti-bacterial seat fabric. Understanding customer perspective is important.
Q. At Ashok Leyland how do you look at frugal engineering?
A. By frugal engineering, most think of it as cheap. I look at frugal engineering as amalgamating more value to the customer than the cost. A good example is, when we developed the school bus we decided to give it a lower step height. To me it means good frugal engineering. Even the seats of the school bus could be a good example. They look nice and are done in a simple manner. They are made without wasting material and contain anti-bacterial fabric. I look at it as as good frugal engineering example. In every bus or truck it is not about one big frugal engineering but small bits – a lot of small ideas that define frugal engineering. It is not about doing it cheap, but about doing it better. The SCR system on the Euro 6 truck is from our sister company Albonair, which already supplies parts and systems to others. We focused on how the system could be more robust, and offer the right feature set. The right dosing system for India rather than offering what is being widely supplied. Such frugal engineering would be about cutting the cost of the entire system. The antibacterial application in the school bus is more of innovation than frugal engineering, but hints at frugal engineering.
“I look at frugal engineering as amalgamating more value to the customer than the cost.”
Q. As a bus market leader, what new technologies do you think will play out in buses?
A. With so much emphasis on pollution, and on smart cities, I see intra-city buses moving towards partia zero emissions or zero emissions. I see a move towards hybrid and electric buses. Demand for diesel vehicles will continue to be there as the move up to BS VI takes place. Everyone is jumping on the electric hybrid bandwagon because of the FAME outlay. There are other technologies that are promising too. Technologies like hydraulic hybrid where hydraulics is used to store the energy. It may not be subsidised, but is relatively cheaper. With the need for hybridelectrics going up, we will see innovation playing a part. Efforts will be made to get the cost down in terms of process technologies and localisation. There are other hybrid technologies to look at like the flywheel hybrid technology. A high-speed flywheel stores energy. Multiple things are going on. Once volumes build up, many technologies will come into play.
Q. What role could India play in the area of new technologies?
A. Look at hybrid technologies, and it is difficult to say what is Indian and what is not. Lot of work is collaborative. For example, if I had to buy Lithium-ion batteries, I would look at China. Nobody makes cells in India, they make it in China. They are a mass produced commodity. Innovation comes in such that how do I make these cells operate in the most efficient manner. The key therefore lies in the battery management system. It is my bigger value addition. As the demand increases a lot of IPR will be seen to be controlled by the Indian OEMs. We may buy a motor from UK, the motor controls are with us. The way the motor works, is controlled and the way it links with the engine makes a bigger IPR than the motor. A lot is already happening in India.
Q. Back to buses, and what technologies do you see coming into the inter-city segment?
A. This market will continue to grow steadily. We are also looking at entering this market in the near future. Its a tough market, but in the next twelve to eighteen months you will see us there.
Q. How has the response been to the Neptune engine?
A. We launched the six-cylinder Neptune engine with 360 hp. The market did not move towards higher powered engines. We are therefore supplying this engine to some of our defence vehicles and marine applications. By the time the market moves to BS VI, a segment of the market will move towards higher horsepower motors. Work will start on Neptune N6 for Euro 6 compliant vehicles. The N4 version will be seen on tractors and tippers in the next six to eight months.
Q. What challenges do you foresee as the industry moves to BS VI?
A. There will be significant challenges. When you look at reduction required from the NOx reduction perspective, which is 1/8th of what it is now, and from the particulate matter perspective, which would be a 50 per cent reduction, the challenges are significant. The output of the tail pipe will be cleaner than the input. If Delhi runs these CVs, the air will be purified; that is the level of purification required. BS VI will also spring significant challenges in terms of service. The way the customer uses the vehicle, the way the engine behaves over time, and the way the aggregates work. Challenge is not just technology, it is also about validation. For validation, we need fuel by 2018 if the market were to move up to BS VI by 2020. The validation run will have to be for at least a million kilometers if not for 10 million kilometers.
Q. With product lifecycle shrinking, how are companies like Ashok Leyland tackling the challenge?
A. What used be typically a waterfall product development cycle due to concept design; due to detailed design, mockup followed by some sort of production schedule, is today about doing it in less time. The investment in Dassault Systemes platform was done to do a lot of it virtually. To do digital modelling and cascading through to production. Suppliers are also involved. Lot of things are going virtual – virtual modelling and virtual validation for example. Also concurrent engineering, internally as well as externally. All these (processes) help to do things faster.
Q. How much of your engineering efforts would be diverted towards hybrid from IC engines?
A. The market is going to be 99 per cent diesel engine oriented. And, even though its one per cent (hybrid), we are spending a lot of effort towards hybrid and other technologies. The effort that goes for this one per cent is 30 per cent. We are putting such an effort is because we believe a significant volume coming from these technologies (hybrid, electric, etc.) in the future.
Q. Does the defence part of the business make for a highly innovative effort?
A. We are involved in the vehicles. Vehicles carrying troops, missiles or guns. We don’t see a big challenge in terms of technology. When we get into more advanced weapons system it is a different ball game. Right now, it is about vehicles, and that is our forte. Talking about vehicle applications, we may have some technology partnerships. In fact, there are cases where we have done something with the partner, and the partner is so happy that he is exporting it back.
Q. How quickly is the electronic content in vehicles rising?
A. I think the electronic content in vehicles is rapidly increasing. Look at the hybrid bus; it is working with an engine, motor, generator and a battery pack. How to make these things to communicate. Go to Euro VI, and the whole brain is there. Its getting more and more complex. Electronics is going to be essential to have a fine control over important functions; to control emission levels. In hybrid vehicles, electronics play an important role in imparting seamless switching over functions. We are seeing rising emphasis on telematics, diagnostics and prognostics. Being able to say what fail mode is coming up. Electronics may be a silent thing in the background, it will however play a critical role. In the Euro VI mode, the engines will be electronic. Presence of telematics and diagnostics will go up. At the inline pump level of BS III, the electronic content may be zero. Over environmental conditions, the challenges with rising electronics will be to make the technician understand; to make the customer understand. Any failure cannot be seen but will make the vehicle fail. We are starting a training process for our dealers starting with the BS IV itself.
Everyone is jumping on the electric hybrid bandwagon because of the FAME outlay. There are other technologies that are promising too.
Q. How was the year that went by for DAF Trucks?
A. The year 2015 was a year of growth. With a growing 2015 heavy duty market share in Europe, we are on track towards our mid-term objective of 20 per cent. And also outside Europe where we will further expand our presence with focus on demanding markets with modern emission standards..
Q. Does the reduction in diesel price hold a key to growth?
A. Customers are benefitting from the low diesel price, and interest rates are low. That makes it attractive to invest in new Euro 6 trucks, with 5 per cent better fuel economy, proven reliability and higher resale values. All customers I spoke with recently have already completely switched to Euro 6 or are in the process of doing so. That is good for all parties as well as for the environment. All incentives that we can come up with in Europe that help people replace older trucks with newer trucks, have the biggest impact for the environment.
Q. How has DAF benefitted from the growing market?
A. DAF has benefited from the larger market. Over 30 per cent more orders were received by DAF last year for the CF and XF models compared to 2014, the highest number since 2007. To meet the high demand, production in Eindhoven (Netherlands) was increased in just four months by 50 per cent. Production has never risen so quickly, and it is a great achievement therefore. In the last three months of the year, a total of 11,500 trucks were produced in Eindhoven, which is a new quarterly record. We produced almost 41.000 CF and XF trucks last year and around 9,700 LF vehicles.
Q. To what extent has your market share in Europe risen?
A. European market share in the over 16-tonne class rose from 13.8 per cent in 2014 to 14.6 per cent last year. Our market share grew in almost all main markets in Europe. We grew more than one per cent in the United Kingdom and Czech Republic; one per cent in Spain, and we gained almost a full per cent in the Netherlands and Poland. Very important is the progress realised in Germany, where our market share grew to 10.8 per cent. Germany is by far Europe’s largest truck market and we need further growth there in order to achieve our objective of 20 per cent heavy duty share in Europe in the mid-term. The CF and XF were successful and contributed to the rise in market share. Both these truck became an additional 5 per cent fuel efficient thanks to engine innovations and new technologies such as predictive cruise control, predictive shifting and eco mode. New silent versions allow transport operators to continue distribution in areas where noise restrictions apply. Helping our customers to achieve the highest yield per kilometer, totally in line with the philosophy of DAF Transport Efficiency, our trucks currently are the most fuel efficient ever. They are also of the highest quality ever.
Q. What about emissions and the costs involved?
A. What we try to explain in Brussels is that we as an industry don’t need legislation to reduce CO2 emission. It is directly linked to fuel consumption. We simply deliver the lowest fuel consumption automatically because our customers ask for it. On top of that, more and more people in Brussels start to understand that it is very complex to make general legislation, and also because every truck is different. The Vecto tool to be introduced in 2018 gets a lot of attention now and the way we are going to declare CO2 emission on a comparable, auditable and verifiable basis will further strengthen market forces and make all manufacturers run even harder. The industry will invest enormously in future to make trucks even more fuel efficient and cleaner. Nevertheless, it is good to question whether we should spend so much efforts and cost on reducing CO2 emission from trucks. All future technologies needed to take the next step will cost our customers in the region of Euro 300 to save one tonne of CO2, whereas on the free market you can still buy emission rights for only Euro 6 per tonne. There’s a need to think about that.
“In line with the philosophy of DAF Transport Efficiency, our trucks currently are the most fuel efficient ever, and also of the highest quality ever.”
Q. Beyond Europe, what are the markets where you are marking your presence?
A. Last year, DAF entered the Malaysian and Colombian markets. In Taiwan, our partner Formosa opened a new assembly plant to double production capacity. With a market share of 17.8 per cent DAF is the largest European truck brand in Taiwan. In Brazil, the plant in Ponta Grossa will soon ramp up production. Although the economy is in a severe recession and competitors are reducing their production, we are working on further growth. It is difficult to forecast sales in Russia. The Ruble is very weak and that makes European trucks very expensive in Russia.
Q. How do you look at the DAF footprint as of current?
A. One has to be realistic. First and foremost, we apply a stepby- step approach and aim for sustainable growth. You cannot enter all marketplaces and be successful in all of them in one go. For DAF, good markets are the markets with a professional transportation system and modern emission standards. We closely monitor developments in China and India but we all know that there is no focus yet on total costs of operation like for instance in Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan. Truck prices in China and India vary from Euro 30 to Euro 40,000. We closely follow the developments there.
Q. How do you look at 2016?
A. This year, the recovery of world economy is expected to continue cautiously. Growth of the European economy is expected to be almost 2 per cent. Despite the unrest in the Middle East, oil prices remain at a low level. With the economic recovery, transport volumes are likely to remain at a good level, with a slight growth in the truck market as a result. For 2016, it is anticipated that the European market for heavy trucks will be between 260 and 290,000 units. The year 2016 could be the best market since 2008. And yes, the market is at a sustainable level, at or even above what under normal economic situations would be a replacement market. However, I don’t have a crystal ball, and it depends very much on how the economy develops.
Q. Will good growth come from
rigid and tractor segment?
A. Despite how the market
fares, our ambition is to grow in
both the tractor and the rigid
segment. In tractors we enjoy
a very strong position indeed.
In the last quarter of last year,
our growth in the rigid segment
was stronger. I always say that
the first 2.5 m of tractors and
rigids are same, and 80 per cent
of the value is there. In markets
where we are the market leader,
our market share in rigids is
higher than in tractors. Many
new markets, like Poland, Czech
Republic and Hungary are real
tractor markets. Tractors are used
for international transportation,
in which competition is the
most severe. I’m proud that DAF
performs best here. We have
many programmes in place to
further grow in rigids and we
are making good progress. But
when we are at 20 per cent
market share in Europe on the
mid-term, we will still be stronger
in tractors. Our objective for this
year is to carve out a 16 per cent
share in the heavy-truck class.
Q. Is the capacity expansion continuing in 2016?
A. We are having a large number of investment projects running in 2016. These include the construction of the new cab paint shop in Westerlo (Netherlands) involving an amount of Euro 100 million. In addition, tens of millions will be invested in Eindhoven for the production of new gear wheels; in a new large press in the sheet metal components plant, and in a new production line for cylinder blocks and cylinder heads. All these major investments illustrate confidence in the future of our factories in Eindhoven and Westerlo. All these investments are done to be ready for the future. I have strong confidence in the future, thanks to the best and most efficient trucks we have come to offer, that we have developed, manufactured and marketed. The trucks have been developed manufactured and marketed by over 8,000 dedicated DAF employees, and by over 1,000 dealers in Europe and across other markets.
Q. As a Paccar Group entreprise, what synergies are you looking forward to? There’s also the Kenworth and Peterbilt brands?
A. I will not be able to give you an example. Think about electronics and driver assistance systems. Sharing a cab is difficult as legislations differ across continents. Driveline synergies are possible only up to a certain level. You are aleady aware that 40 per cent of the Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks in North America are running with the Paccar MX engine, developed by DAF in Eindhoven. We have just launched the MX-11 engine in the US, and I expect this to become as successful as it is in Europe.
For DAF, good markets are the markets with a professional transportation system and modern emission standards.