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FEB 19 2018

How prepared are auto parts makers in adopting BS-VI, electrification demands

  • Economic Times, ET Bureau / Hyderabad
  • Created: Mon 19th FEB 2018

 

The focus in the Components Show 2018 was e-vehicles and after-treatment products for meeting BS-VI emission norms. The two big southern groups -- TVS and Amalgamations -- have taken a head-start in this sphere by developing futuristic technologies in-house to keep costs under tight rein.

The southern states contribute roughly about 35-40 per cent to the auto component revenue in the country. The Amalgamations Group is gunning for 50 per cent of the revenue accruing from the new business streams. It expects to grow 35 per cent over the next 3 years, boosted by the fresh wave of technologies flooding the market. As a group, it is investing Rs 75 crore over the next 2.5 years to make parts that are Euro VI compliant.

The Lucas-TVS Group, on the other hand, is bullish of about 30 per cent business coming from the new product lines over the same time frame. It is non-committal about investment figures in new products.

A Kick to Two-wheelers

India Nippon Electricals, a Lucas-TVS Group company, had displayed motorcycles and scooters fitted with the new fuel injection systems compliant to BS-VI emission norms that will replace the traditional carburetor in two-wheelers.

Currently, fuel injection systems comply with BS-IV norms and are mostly equipped in bikes. The products are currently in an approval stage and are undergoing testing. They are expected to be launched in Q3 of FY19, said Ravinder Sharma, CEO of India Nippon Electricals.

In addition, the company has used the advanced technology of integrated starter generator (ISG) in two-wheelers that is set to subsume the traditional starter motors completely (Lucas-TVS is a key supplier of starter motors). These are in final evaluation stage by customers. Some of the key OEMs India Nippon is targeting are Hero MotoCorp, Honda and TVS for orders.

Developed in-house, the ISG revs up the engine faster and is expected to stave off a lot of the serviceability issues currently dogging starter motors.

Spin-offs of ISGs are that it is electronically-based with embedded software and can be ignited remotely from a distance of 10-15 metres. They can also configure software using mobile phone, claims the company. Interestingly, this technology upgrade can be used in sync with and without BS-VI in two-wheelers.

A Push to E-rickshaw

An e-rickshaw with a local electric motor was also on exhibit at the fair and Arvind Balaji, joint managing director at Lucas-TVS, told ETAuto that it had also been developed in-house. While initially it will be used to power e-rickshaws, later its scope can be broadened for electric vehicles.

Currently, trials are underway with customers with the product to hit the road by year-end. “We started R&D on electrification of products four years ago and are coming to the market at the right time, so as to offer a combination of electrified and connected products. The market is there today for e-rickshaws and later we can scale up for passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles using indigenous technology,” said Balaji.

The company already produces ancillary motors for suspensions, braking and steering and sees a huge potential for it as electric technology picks up steam in a couple of years.

Off-Road Plans

Simpsons Engines – a part of the Amalgamations Group – has developed a new 2.6L three-cylinder diesel engine for off highway vehicles that is being exported to the US for the Group’s Massey Ferguson tractors. The engine is compliant with the next level of emission norms Tier 4Final prevalent in the US. Tractors in India currently follow Trem3 emission norms.

The local market is expected to move to the higher emission norms in 2020 and 2023 and the company is optimistic of introducing this new engine to the Indian market when these emission norms are applicable in India.

“We have already developed the product to meet advanced emission norms that are present in the US. They will meet the next level of norms in India in the future,” said PS Rajamani, full-time director of Simpsons Engines.

New engines will be complemented by electronic common rail injection systems and after-treatment devices to comply with higher level of emission norms similar to BS-IV and BS-VI norms. Simpsons is also working on bringing a new crop of engine capacities in the below 4 litre displacement with higher power density.

Ram Venkataramani, managing director of IP Rings, (Amalgamations), elaborates that the group companies are well positioned to meet Euro VI norms, for which a lot of work is underway. The company makes pistons and rings for the engine.

“There is a dramatic change happening in pistons and piston rings, for which a lot more effort is going into design and production capability and more non-disruptive testing to meet BS-VI emission norms. As a group, we are investing Rs 75 crore over the next 2.5 years to make parts that are Euro VI compliant.”

The investment will be funded primarily through internal accruals and a small part through debt.

Among other components that will be encompassed in this capex are bearings, clutch assemblies and flywheel ring gears, which will necessitate light weighting and enhanced power density.

“The trend now is to generate more power from a small pack that leads to more stress on every component. Hence, parts have to be light weight, for which a lot of development work is being done on new materials. Many of them require extensive testing and hence the investment in non-disruptive testing,” he added. The BS-VI products will be ready by end 2019 after testing and validation.

Bimetal Bearings, another Amalgamations Group company, has already developed BS-VI compliant materials and is fine tuning them with specialized coatings to reduce friction, according to Narayanan. Much of the BS-VI development work revolves around upping the density of the engine that involves changing the design and material requirements, which will be improved across the spectrum of pistons, rings and bearings.

Electrifying the Future

The bearings major also produces metal powder that will form part of their EV initiative as also be leveraged for 3D printing. Use of special powders helps in performance enhancement with the engine becoming smoother, efficient as well as emits lower emissions.

In terms of electrification, the company is exploring intermediate management of battery cells as a future business stream and has tied up with research institutes for it.

“We expect to have something concrete in lithium-ion battery cells in 18-24 months, with the new product to be ready within 24 months to 5 years. While the investment for EVs has not been quantified as yet, the initial laboratory expenses will be to the tune of Rs 10-15 crore under a common group umbrella,” remarks Narayanan.

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