Going Electric

Q & A

Veejay Nakra,

Senior Vice President, Sales & Customer Care, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra

Interview by: Bhargav TS

38735 = 222 copy

Q. What is your industry outlook?

A. The sentiments are positive and things are moving in the right direction. We have a full year for the new products that we have launched. The first quarter growth is mainly due to that. The monsoon is looking good, and the sentiments, in the urban as well as rural areas are good. The realisation of this will however start kicking in towards the third quarter. The second half of this year will be stronger therefore. Currently, the M&HCV segments are growing, and we hope the LCV segment will also experience a strong growth. If the infrastructure expands, M&HCV growth will be followed by LCV growth. We will see the benefit of both, infrastructure and a good monsoon. The two will help in reviving the LCV segment in the coming months.

Q. At Mahindra, the emphasis on electric vehicles seems to be growing. What do you hope to achieve?

A. We are looking at making multiple drivetrain fuel options available to customers. It is therefore not just about diesel and petrol. We are looking at CNG fuel for certain products, and at electric vehicles for certain applications. We were the first in India to acquire a company that provides electric (mobility) solutions. We have the e20 and a few other products from this business arm. We are now looking at creating electric solutions in many platforms. The Mahindra Supro is the first product in the commercial vehicle category. We are working on many other existing products and platforms to provide electric solutions.

Q. How hopeful are you of electric or CNG infrastructure to come up sooner than later?

A. The manufacturers as well as SIAM are working on it. They are also talking to the government. There is very good realisation in the country, and the government is actively working towards creating the right environment. And, it is not just about CNG or LPG, but also about electric vehicle technology. Electric vehicle technology will boom with the progress in battery technology that would allow for longer drives and quicker charging. Manufacturers in many countries are working on such technologies. Clean technologies are going to be the future of our industry. Any new policy or framework takes time. The good part is the framework the government has come up with that gives use a road map till 2020. It is a positive sign.

Q. Considering the requirements of CVs, how do you think electric technology can play a role?

A. If you look at the current limitations of technology, it may not be possible. However, the speed at which technology is developing in electric vehicles, we can see it coming in Small Commercial Vehicles (SCV). For it to come in Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) will take longer. For HCVs, the torque level has to be higher. Also, it would depend on the load HCVs carry and the terrain they travel over.

Q. Apart from an electric version of Supro, which other CVs could we look at in the electric form?

A. We are currently looking at passenger segment. We therefore launched the Supro electric passenger version. Over a period of time we will bring electric versions of other vehicles too. In India, customers usually overload their vehicle. The challenge is not about powering the vehicle for rated load capacity, but about factoring in the amount of overloading, or its nature. That is our main challenge. We will therefore initially think of electric vehicles for carrying people only. Such vehicles are seldom overloaded.

Q. How challenging it is to develop an electric goods carrier?

A. There are a few things that have to be kept in mind. The need for charging stations for example. The owner of a vehicle for captive use knows when and how long the vehicle will be running. He can accordingly charge the vehicle. For market load application, the driver will not know when he will get his trip, or for how long he has to drive. The need for charging stations en-route is therefore essential. Another big challenge is the higher initial costs. The running cost or the operating cost of an electric vehicle is low, but the initial costs are high. Looking at the profile of buyers in the CV segment, it is definitely a challenge about convincing them to buy a product. In fact, the main challenge is to make the proposition viable for a person to buy the product.

Q. What new are you bringing to the market in CVs?

A. We are strong in LCVs where we operate in a niche segment. Our numbers speak, and we are growing much faster than our competitors in the segment are. As far as the bus segment is concerned, it is about cowl-chassis. The bus platform is adapted to the cowl-chassis. Our team is actively working on it.

About engines

Talaulicar_Anant_High Resoultion - New1 copy



Q & A

Anant J Talaulicar, Managing Director, Cummins Group India

Interview by: Ashish Bhatia

Q. Cummins and Tata Motors have had a long association. How do you look at the journey?

A. Cummins and Tata Motors have been partners for 23 years. The 50:50 joint venture partnership between the two companies dates back to 1993. Production at Tata Cummins started in 1995 at Jamshedpur. It still continues. We began operations with a production capacity of 60,000 engines per annum. The production has since doubled to 120,000 engines per annum. Even that was found to be insufficient, and we duplicated the capacity at the Cummins megasite at Phaltan near Satara. The campus at Phaltan houses seven factories. These include components for the entire engine. The megasite has added another 120,000 engines to the capacity, taking it to 240,000 engines per annum. Tata and Cummins, as partners, have expanded capacities to meet the demand in the country. We brought new technology into India in 2000. The same year India began moving towards cleaner engines. Initially BS I, BS II, BS III and now on the verge of BS IV. There will be pan-India implementation of BS IV in April next year. So we have partnered with them (Tata) absolutely hand-in-hand throughout the journey.

Q. You are increasing capacity at a time the industry is struggling with over capacity. Why?

A. In the financial year 2005, the Indian economy was booming. We touched 90 per cent utilisation levels by the 2011 financial year. The 2011 financial year was the peak year. We found out that we are unable to provide enough to the market. We were actually on the back foot at that time. We were fully utilised, running three shifts, seven days a week. We therefore decided to add significant capacity in India. Thereafter, contrary to our predictions, the Indian economy was throttled, courtesy the lack lustre policies of the government in power then. It is necessary to understand that trucks are capital goods. They are simply not a piece of cosmetics, which is bought. As things start to get tough in terms of the economy, it is the commercial vehicles that are impacted foremost. Interest rates and inflation went up; demand went down. This created the worst possible scenario. Fortunately with the new government, we are witnessing a revival. For the record, we have adequate exposure in diverse fields including the generator industry. We also cater to off-highway construction, mining equipment, railways and the marine segment.

Q. Do you see the market reviving itself?

A. The private sector is yet to join the growth bandwagon fully. It is still reeling under the challenge of over capacity. Green shoots are visible however and revival has started based upon government spending. A thrust on infrastructure, defence and mining has resulted in action. The commercial vehicle industry grew almost 30 per cent last year. Especially the Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV) segment. Growth so far looks sustainable. If the economy continues to grow, there will be improvement. Slowly the private sector will start joining. Capacity utilisation will go up and create room for fresh investments. GST and an investment in world-class infrastructure will put the economy on the fast track to growth. There is substantial pent-up demand. The need is to make certain that the policies are growth oriented. India makes an attractive destination for global sourcing activities. Not only can the demands of this country be catered to, one can export too. Tata Motors is also aiming in this direction. The key export markets include Africa, the Middle-East among others.

Q. How is Cummins planning to take advantage of the market reviving?

A. The government is taking a very aggressive stance towards achieving zero emission. We are planning to move towards BS VI by April 2020. As of now, we have not even reached BS IV pan-India. That will happen on April 2017. There are only four years to leap from four (BS IV) to six (BS VI). No country has set a precedence of doing something like this; of having skipped the BS V emission level. What will happen is, a BS VI diesel engine will turn into an air filter. It will start cleaning up the ambient air and that’s where Cummins is looking at playing a central role. The combustion system, pistons, piston rings, shapes of the bowl and the turbocharger will become a technology that can also clean-up. People until now would have thought that these were about adding a boost. Technology will move from simpler fixed-geometry turbochargers to waste gate turbo chargers and then to variable geometry turbochargers. On the fly, it would be possible to modify the combustion process such that the air maintains the appropriate heat. There are advanced aftertreatment systems which control Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) devices, and filters for particulates and hydrocarbons called Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF). Cummins has both the technologies; turbochargers and fuel systems that are much more advanced. The fuel systems as of current may be mechanical in nature. It may be possible to repair them under the shade of a tree. However, BS VI fuel system will be a high pressure electronically controlled fuel system with much higher cylinder and injection pressure to atomise the fuel so that it completely combusts in a clean manner. We expect it to significantly impact our business. We expect it to lead to a positive impact.

Q. How diverse is your portfolio?

A. From a global portfolio perspective we have engines that range from 2.8-litres to 95-litres. We are looking at bringing our smaller engines and localising them in India. We have designed and are manufacturing 2.8-litre and 3.8-litre advanced Euro-VI engines. We are looking at bringing this portfolio to India. Similarly in mining, we will be bringing in large capacity engines (60-litre) to India.

Q. How far has work come on integrating telematics?

A. Trucks with BS IV compliance level have some amount of telematics integrated. Going forward we will have advanced telematics with a higher set of features for the truck drivers and fleet operators. It will help them in optimising the cost of their operation. Today, one essentially gets online data on the engine and vehicle performance in real time. This can be used to optimise the truck operations that help to lower fuel economy and enhance safety. We as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can also get this information in real time. All this is well within the realm of possibility.

GST and an investment in world-class infrastructure will put the economy on the fast track to growth.



Frugal engineering attributes are becoming more and more visible as new commercial vehicles are introduced.

Rentals rose in February on trunk routes. The rise was linked to an increase in diesel prices, which inched up as international crude prices rose due to the depreciating US Dollar. When the fuel prices started going down, the Government chose to hike taxes. The benefit of low crude prices never made it to the Indian public. Further rise in crude prices cannot be ruled out, and for fleet operators who could pass on the rise in rentals smoothly, the pressure on operating margins is likely to go up even if slightly. Chances of a reduction in excise duty are next to nil. With the demand for yet another cut in interest rate gaining force on the back of an easing inflation, it may be necessary to understand that the efforts taken by manufacturers to introduce efficient, comfortable and cost competitive commercial vehicles is part of a race to meet stringent emission norms among others.

Growing on a small base, the commercial vehicle industry continues to be under pressure. It is not surprising to witness manufacturers exert an export thrust hence. The domestic market continues to be replacement driven; LCVs look like they are out of the woods. Demand for higher tonnage vehicles is growing. Frugal engineering attributes are becoming more and more visible as new commercial vehicles are introduced. Enhancing comfort, efficiency and performance, they are finding a way into the most unexpected places – seats with anti-bacterial fabric, lower step height for easier ingress and egress, and a quest to attain Euro 6 emission compliance at far less than what it took in markets like Europe. The silent revolution in the Indian commercial vehicle industry continues. It is also drawing the attention of the world as new ways to deal with challenges are sought.

Bhushan Mhapralkar


Commercial Vehicle Magazine


Kartik Ramanan, General Manager – Global Bus Engine Business, Cummins Inc

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Article by: Anirudh Raheja

Q & A


Kartik Ramanan,General Manager –Global Bus Engine Business, Cummins Inc.

Interview by: Anirudh Raheja


Global approach


How does a variation in technology implementation take place at Cummins?

We do ‘fit for market’. Many years ago, we used to develop the technology in US, and then roll it out in other areas. But this approach does not help us any longer. What we have consciously done in the last few years is to enhance our understanding of the markets, which is why we have organised our bus business, which we did not have earlier. Today we have a complete team which looks after our bus business globally. We have people in India, China, US and Europe as well. There may be things that we do like stop-start technology where we cannot just take it off the European shelf and apply in India. So we may take it to the application engineering level in India and see what the constraints are. What constraints are particularly there for the Indian market and adapt it accordingly. But that is just one part. The other part is, we do products exclusively for India. In fact, we often bring it back to the advanced markets. We have already started; we are already running in that direction. If a product made in US can be used in India, why not a product made in India find use in US. One has to adapt.


So, will India be a potential start-stop technology hub and market?

Typically, we have a launch in one area and we always look to leverage the technology in other parts of the world. India is one area where we are actively looking at stop-start technology. Traffic in India is a major problem in various cities. There are still a few things from which we have to weave our way through. Transmissions for example. As to how it (start-stop tech) can mesh up with correct transmissions. Whether stop-start versus manual or stop-start versus automatic; it will take sometime for us to get through.

Many parts of India are moving to Euro 4. How do you look at the implementation of stringent emission norms?

The issue is more about execution, than about capability. I think capability is there. It is difficult for me to say how it will go through but the jump from Euro V to Euro VI is significant. And moving from Euro IV to Euro VI will be a bigger leap. As far as execution is concerned, it will be in two levels. First of the two will be the infrastructure. Infrastructure needs to be ready. The second of the two will include the markets. Markets need to be ready to accept the kind of jump that will be needed. It is a huge jump in terms of initial costs, and it will come down to a decision, that will it be worthwhile putting the economy or market in jeopardy or in peril? If you don’t have buyers, then the new technology is of no use. In my opinion, there will be practical limitations for the implementation of Euro 5, but from the support stand-point we will support it.


There are three injectors working instead of six in start-stop technology. Doesn’t the pressure on injectors increase?

It is true that we have three injectors instead of six in start-stop technology. We are however also looking at a technology which can give infinite start-stops. In a market like India where traffic is a huge problem, it can be a kind of hybrid. Currently we have an SCR solution and EGR solutions as well. But SCR has a better life-cycle for the better (life) part of the engine. So, it all boils down to the initial costs involved.


What role does India play in terms of new product development at Cummins?

What we are working on is power density and making the engines more compact. Moving on from six cylinder to four cylinder engines will happen, but we need to be more careful. In Europe, we have already done that from 9-litre to 7-litre engines, and now from 7-litre to 4.5-litre gradually. There are some duty cycles which can support that trend. A potentially plain area can take that kind of technology easily, but for a hilly terrain, a six cylinder engine has its own benefits. There are specific challenges in India, Return On Investment (ROI) specifically. I think there is a lot of technology that you can put into India, but diversification in geographical conditions alter the approach to a big extent.

GST: Impact on road transportation

aa23d254-6ff2-43f9-a3d7-f64d864ab627_TempSmall In this column, V.G. Ramakrishnan, Managing Director – South Asia, Frost & Sullivan opines that the impact of the implementation of the GST regime will be moderated by dynamics specific to India.
A market of 1.2 billion consumers and one of the faster growing economies in the world, India requires an efficient transportation and logistics industry. With over 60 percent of goods transported by roads in 2011 and there being no significant threat from other modes like rail, coastal shipping and inland waterways, the road transportation sector is expected to remain the mainstay for goods haulage.
However, the evolution of the transportation sector has been plagued by inefficiency due to poor road infrastructure and sub-optimal supply chain networks. Supply chain design and implementation in India has been dictated more by tax considerations rather than efficiency. Goods are subjected to a multitude of taxes like excise duty, central sales tax (CST), value added tax (VAT), entry tax and octroi, among others resulting in cascading taxes and higher administrative work. This in turn entails longer lead times and higher costs. These taxes administered at various levels by the central government, state governments and local municipalities lead to a multiplicity of authorities, multitudinous documentation, bureaucratic impediments and escalating taxes.
SVLL_2Manufacturers had to engage in complex supply chain solutions to transact in ‘one country but multiple state markets’ separated by their own tax laws and rates. In order to sell goods produced in one state into another state, companies were required to stock transfer goods to a warehouse before making the first sale to a distributor or dealer in the local market. Manufacturers established warehouses in every state to deal with the tax regime. Companies appointed C&F agents whose primary task was to be the custodian of the good manufactured for a cost while adding no value to the process.
Continued investment in roads is addressing infrastructure challenges, which in turn leads to the development of efficient road transportation. An efficient taxation system is the need of the hour for a fledgling market like India. Unification of India into one single market is expected to lead to significant improvement in supply chains and reduction in costs. The changes to the tax system first came about when the government mooted the idea of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2007. GST was expected to change the tax landscape in India and start the process of consolidation of warehouses paving the way for large stocking points and efficient transportation methods.
The Federal polity and structure of the country required taking into account the opinions of various stakeholders including state governments from various political parties — national and regional. This led to two GST rates: one central, the other state, instead of an ideal single GST rate subsuming centre, state and local taxes, thereby establishing a truly unified and simple tax structure.
Discussion, debates and write-ups about GST and its benefits are endless. In conclusion, the general consensus is that GST is good for the economy and country. GST was to be implemented in 2010 but differences between the Central and State Governments over multiple issues including political differences stalled the implementation of this crucial tax reform. Predictions of implementation are hard to come by, but the hope and expectation is, the sooner the better.
Why is GST a crucial element of change for the road transportation sector? How much is GST a game changer and what is its impact on the commercial vehicle space? To answer these questions one needs to look closely at how these legislative changes impact the storing and sales of goods from the manufacturer to consumption centres. Comparisons have been drawn with many countries to predict warehousing post a GST scenario. India has some unique due to many factors. And these factors will play an important role in shaping the future landscape.
1. India: a country of 1.2 billion people – approximately 4-times the population of the US, leading to a high level of population density (34/km2 in the US compared to 382/km2 in India, 2011)
2. Large number of Small and Medium Enterprises producing goods catering to a wide range of customers
3. Consumption patterns, habits, and preferences vary widely across the country.
4. Increasing urbanisation across the country
5. Land acquisition and its costs
The post-GST implementation landscape in Indiais likely to showcase some interesting scenarios.
SVLL_1Larger Sized Warehouses in Lesser Numbers Post GST Implementation
The logistics industry is gearing up for the implementation of GST. Modelling has indicated that India can be efficiently served by stocking goods across 5-6 key locations or hubs: National Capital Region (NCR Delhi) to service the northern market; Mumbai/Pune to serve the western market; Chennai/Bangalore for southern markets; Kolkata, the eastern region, and one location each to service central and north eastern regions in the country. This change is expected to create a true hub and spoke system of transportation. In effect, we would have large warehousing spaces in each of the hubs to cater to the markets in the vicinity. In the initial phase of GST implementation, it is expected that large number of warehouses across multiple states (that were around only for tax purposes) will be closed leading to consolidation of goods, which in turn will require large-sized warehouses in select 5-6 hubs that will dispatch goods directly to consumption centers.
Future: Back to the past?
However, the uniqueness of the country is expected to change some of the scenarios. It is expected that India will create its unique hub and spoke model with an initial system of 5-6 hubs and move into the system of multiple hubs and spokes over 10-15 years. Two factors offer evidence for this unfolding scenario
1. Increase in consumption due to higher incomes
2. Higher levels of urbanisation creating large cities with more than 5-million people
Currently, three Indian cities, namely, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata have populations in excess of 10 million. Currently, there are five cities in India that have populations between 5-10 million. As per the 2011 population census there were 53 urban agglomerates spread across 10 states that have a population of over 1 million. What is interesting is that in 2001, there were only 35 cities with populations of over a million people. Urbanisations levels are predicted to increase further. Over the next decade, the number of urban centres with a population of more than a million is expected to nearly double. Meanwhile, the metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata will become megapolises with populations of over 20 million over the next two decades.
A case in point is the southern triad of Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. These cities currently serve a population of approximately 8 million people. These cities added over 2-million people in the last decade, the same number Delhi added to its population of 16.4-million in 2001, an indication of rapid growth in population and economic activity. These cities are also state capitals and important centres of commerce.
Supply chain optimisation will indicate servicing these markets through an integrated single warehouse strategy as each city can be reached from any other in less than 16 hours. However, continued growth and creation of satellite cities or greater regions will require each market to be served individually. In concept, there is a good possibility that India could return to where it all started: 20 warehouses or more to ensure proper distribution coverage.
Some other factors could also move the market in the direction including fragmentation of producers and local tastes.
Road Transportation – Multiple Opportunities for varied stakeholders
Consolidation due to GST changes can impact the road transportation sector in many aspects. A few are listed:
1. Quicker turnaround time for trucks due to reduced paper work and lower waiting times at check posts: Higher asset productivity, leading to better profits for transporters.
2. Higher containerisation of cargo that could lead to higher efficiency of loading and unloading. Reduction in pilferage and damage during transit would be an added benefit.
3. In the short- to medium-term, post-GST implementation, the demand for large tractor-trailers and higher powered commercial vehicles could increase with a corresponding increase in demand for vehicles for last mile connectivity.
4. In real terms, polarisation of the truck market into extreme ends of the power spectrum, both upper and bottom end, can be expected. Growth of medium duty trucks could falter during this period of change.
5. If development of new micro markets fructifies and future warehouse location strategy reflects upon the current scenario, medium duty trucks and lower end (power) of the heavy duty range trucks could grow significantly
6. A direct fall out of GST would be increased competitiveness: efficient sourcing. This can lead to higher exports of goods from India translating to higher demand for trucks
7. Higher load carrying vehicles means that a fewer number of vehicles are required. With driver shortages hitting the industry hard, an unlikely benefit could less pressure to increase the talent pool of truck drivers.
There are undeniable benefits of GST, whichever way it pans out and a positive impact on the transportation and warehousing. But, for now GST continues to be a mirage.

Shell Lubricants aims at developing next generation lubricants in India.

h1du3qu3Shell Lubricants aims at developing next generation lubricants in India.
In line with its commitment to continue investing in India, Shell Lubricants will soon comission its technology center at Bangalore in India. Built with an investment of USD 500 million, the technology center will employ 1500 people. An extension of the R&D center Shell has in Bangalore for over 15 years now, and employs 1000 people, including scientists involved in the development of various solutions, the technology center will help develop lubes. Announced Nitin Prasad, Managing Director, Shell Lubricants India, “By 2016, Shell will have a new technology center at Bangalore. We will soon be able to test and design newer fuels and lubricants locally. The center will play a major role of working in close cooperation with Shell facilities to develop next generation lubricants.”Expanding market reach
In an effort to expand its footprint, Shell Lubricants extended its product portfolio recently. It launched Shell Rimula APDEO CF 20 W40 diesel engine oil for medium and heavy duty engines with the aim of providing a one stop solution for diversified vehicle range as well as a range of equipment. The company has been working closely with a good number of equipment manufacturers for some time now. It is, in fact, extending gradually its services to include oil condition monitoring techniques for equipments. “Even though it was traditionally done offline, we are now working with online sensing technology that would help us to collect data that is necessary to gauge the condition of the lube. The process would also enable us to predict the condition of the equipment going forward. We are already sharing this data on highway sector. f52428a6-71a7-43f3-a4e6-da7253ea8240_TempSmallWe are also expanding our services to the mining sector,” expressed Dr. Felix Guerzoni, Global Product Application Specialist, Shell Lubricants. The Shell Rimula T5 E 10 W30 oil, the company developed in close cooperation with Tata Motors offers fuel savings in the range of 3 per cent. This amounts to Rs 40,000 per truck savings for the operator. “Working with the OEMs allows us to understand the product better and develop the lubricants accordingly” mentioned Prasad.Meeting the stringent emission norms Prasad is also of the opinion that it is important to understand what will come the way of the following generation in terms of environment. “It is necessary to reduce pressure on OEMs, and thus co-engineer products with an understanding of what we are leaving out for the generations next in terms of environment,” said Prasad. “There are talks of jumping one complete emission standard which will impact the availability of fuel quality, lubricants along with the enormous pressure on OEMs to comply with better emission norms,” he added. Drawing attention to the federal system in India, and the need for it to improve and ensure cohesiveness all around, Prasad stated that GST is a good example where a policy can be created at the central level. States will however need to agree, he added, and should be able to implement. “All of us have to come forward and function together,” he explained. About the enormous investments involved in quick upgradation to BS VI and the subsequent passing on of the heavy costs associated to the consumer, Prasad said that it is the end consumer who will need to make a choice. “He will have to do it quickly and firmly. He could be better off by asking the price of clean air. What it will be like? If some kind of support from the government will be there? The outcome will point at the availability of cleaner, low sulphur fuel,” stated Prasad.dbc4f832-75c2-4b5c-8ae1-306d0ed013d1_TempSmallExplaining that the move from crude oil to those that are of good quality will remain a challenge, Prasad drew attention to the menace of piracy. “Being a market leader in the lubricants space, counterfeiting has been a major problem that Shell lubricants in India have not escaped from either”, he added. Mansi Tripathy, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell Lubricants India quickly pointed out that Shell has been actively working to ensure the right product reaches the end consumer, and is keeping a sharp eye on spurious products. “In the last three months we have initiated two legal proceedings. Though the menace of spurious products is limited to parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and some south Indian states, we would like to send a strong message to the market that as far as quality is concerned, Shell does not make a compromise,” she said further. 1220dbe5-1f89-4e22-8341-289486d4d1e5_TempSmallAlternate fuel prospects and lubesVarious governments across the world have been very excited about the use of alternate fuels in an effort to offset environmental concerns; to deal with the risk of degrading air quality. Many have agreed to 5 to 10 per cent mandates in the ecosystem. Shell Lubricants is closely observing the rising preference of the Indian government for alternate propulsion medias even though they are less energy efficient. Prasad mentioned that alternate propulsion medias need to be better structured. Pointing at Brazil, he said, “It is important to source bio-fuel in a sustainable manner. We are looking forward to partnering with sources who we believe are doing sustainable agriculture without causing harm to the ecological balance.”

Gas-to-Liquid oils

Even though it is at a nascent stage, Shell Lubricants is banking heavily on Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) fuels. “If the lubricant market is growing at one to two per cent, GTL market is growing at 15 to 20 per cent. People are gradually starting to realise that it is economically better for them while progressing towards lower emissions,” Prasad mentioned. With OEMs looking towards longer oil drain intervals, Shell has already got 3,500 patents registered in the area of GTL technology. Sources close to the company claimed that solutions can only be found by collaborating; through a collaboration between various industry elements, think tanks, academia, NGOs and the government. India does not need to start from scratch, they added. Stressing upon the need to implement BS VI emission standards, Prasad mentioned that India can learn from other countries. He questioned if India as a society is ready to foot the bill? “There will be an increase in prices for certain. However, the question is, will there be a reduction in excise duties, state taxes to balance out the high costs? The answer to this is not clear yet,” Prasad concluded.

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


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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.