Will focus on local manufacturing, reduce carbon footprint: Maruti Suzuki

Source: Economic Times, 20 February 2023

Maruti Suzuki India said it will continue to work on all kinds of technologies in order to reduce its carbon footprint. The auto major will also focus on local manufacturing to achieve its goals, it said in a stock exchange filing on Monday.

The company stated that multiple technologies would be required for decarbonisation of the Indian auto sector. The total carbon reduction of the fleet will depend upon not just the carbon reduction of each technology, but also on the volume of vehicles each technology can generate, it noted.

“Maruti Suzuki will continue to work on all technologies for continuous carbon reduction in a manner that will be good for the environment, for the customer, and for Make-in-India,” the company said in a presentation made during an investor meeting.

Each technology will have its own carbon reduction potential, cost implication, need for infrastructure, localization potential and customer pull across different vehicle segments, the automaker said.

It noted that Maruti Suzuki has the least amount of fleet carbon emission among all car manufacturers in India.

A second manufacturing facility for Li-ion batteries is being set up with an additional investment of Rs 7,300 crore by Suzuki Motor Gujarat (SMG), a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Japan-based Suzuki Motor Corporation, it added.

Budget 2023: Electric vehicle manufacturers welcome continuation of import sops

Economic Times, 02 February 2023

Mumbai: Electric vehicle manufacturers’ body SMEV on Wednesday said the continuation of the existing import sops for machinery used to produce lithium-ion batteries will help support current battery pricing. The credit relief measures given to MSMEs in the Union budget are a welcome move, SMEV said and added that since many EV manufacturers also fall in this category, it hopes that these credit relief measures would be extended to them also, as they too had faced tremendous hardships during the pandemic.

“There are still a lot of EV component parts that need to be imported, including lithium batteries, permanent magnets for electric motors, semiconductors, etc. We anticipated that the customs duty on these necessary imports would be rationalised in order to help keep EV prices in check,” Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) Director General said in a statement.

The hike in customs duty on SKD/CBU is opportune as it will further incentivize the local suppliers because of the relative pricing advantage.

Auto component sectoral body welcomes govt’s push on exports, manufacturing, local value addition

Economic Times, 02 February 2023

ACMA, the apex body representing India’s auto component sector, on Thursday congratulated the government on the measures announced in the Union Budget, especially for the focus on inclusive growth, development of infrastructure, ease of doing business, enhanced outlay for capital expenditure, impetus to growth and development of MSMEs and thrust on skilling and research in the latest technology domain.

Thanking Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Sunjay J Kapur, President, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA), said, “The Budget is a blueprint of a digitally-enabled Aatmanirbhar Bharat, coupled with measures that will drive sustainable yet inclusive growth at a rapid pace. Focus on exports, manufacturing, local value addition and encouraging green energy and mobility are indeed steps in the right direction. Further, the proposals for personal income tax will put more money in the hands of people thus fuelling consumption leading to economic growth.”

Kapur further mentioned, “ACMA is also delighted by the measures announced for skilling and research in hi-tech areas such as AI (artificial intelligence), Robotics, 5G, Mechatronics and 3D printing, among others. With increasing telematics and software content in vehicles, these measures will ensure that our industry continues to be relevant and globally competitive”.

He also said, “The Budget also announced measures to assuage challenges faced by MSMEs due to failures of execution of contractual obligations during the pandemic. That apart, continuation of reduced duties on copper scrap and inputs for steel will help in availability of raw materials in the automotive sector.”

Renault-Nissan plan India reboot in test of reshaped alliance

Source: Economic Times, 02 February 2023

A revamped alliance between Renault and Nissan will face an early test in India, where the automakers plan new investment in a bid to close the gap on rivals, people with knowledge of the plans told Reuters.

The automakers reached a deal in principle on Monday to restructure their two-decade partnership by putting both companies on an equal footing in terms of shareholding and with Nissan investing in Renault’s new electric vehicle (EV) unit.

The French and Japanese companies announced they had identified key projects on which they would deepen collaboration in India, Latin America and Europe, without elaborating.

In India, the world’s fastest-growing car market, the new investment will be led by Nissan, and the companies are evaluating vehicles they could launch from 2025, two of the people told Reuters. That could include a reboot for Renault’s popular Duster sport-utility vehicle, they said.

Renault-Nissan also plan to return to a strategy of sharing and cross-badging vehicles in India, aiming to increase plant utilisation rates and reduce costs, the people said. The Duster SUV, for instance, is being considered for launch under both the Nissan and Renault brands, they said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the companies have not announced details of the new strategy, which could be made public as early as next week.

Nissan did not respond to a request for comment. Renault declined to comment on the details of planned projects with Nissan.

The new collaboration underscores the pressure automakers face as they invest in EVs, automation and other software services even as demand for gasoline cars greatly outstrips that for EVs, especially in up-and-coming markets like India.

It also points to the rising potential for sales in India, which last year overtook Japan to become the world’s third-largest car market. Industry-wide sales in India surged 23% last year to 4.4 million, according to S&P Global Mobility, while other major markets faced supply constraints.


The first test for the new Renault-Nissan approach could be the Renault Triber, a seven-seat car that the companies have discussed selling in India under the Nissan brand, one of the people said. Those talks were put on hold while they negotiated the broader partnership, he said.

Renault is considering an electric version of its mass-market Kwid small car for India, Reuters reported last month. Two of the people said Nissan has joined that review.

The carmakers also plan to bring an existing alliance platform to India that will allow them to build bigger models like the Duster, the people said. Renault-Nissan already share an alliance platform in India for its small cars.

Renault and Nissan together had around 3% of the Indian market in 2022. Unlike Nissan, Renault does not have a significant presence in major markets like China, the United States and Japan, raising the stakes for its success in India, one person said.

In India, the two automakers have a complex crossover of interests, with joint ownership of a car plant and a research and development centre in the southern city of Chennai.

The plant can produce about 500,000 cars a year but is only running at about a third of that capacity, industry data show. Nissan owns 70% of the plant, but its sales in India lag Renault’s. Nissan sold just 35,000 vehicles in India in 2022 – 60% below Renault’s 87,000.

Renault has a bigger stake in the research centre, which focuses on localising vehicles for India and global markets.

Cross-badging carries the risk that a Nissan version of a vehicle could cannibalise sales for the Renault equivalent or vice-versa. That was one reason the companies previously scrapped the approach.

But rivals like Japan’s Toyota Motor and partner Suzuki Motor have had success with the strategy in India.

In Latin America, Renault and Nissan are studying the shared use of low-cost vehicle platforms, a person with knowledge of the plan there said. The alliance has plants in Mexico and Argentina. (Reporting by Aditi Shah in New Delhi and Gilles Guillaume in Paris; Editing by William Mallard)

New norms to put auto parts companies on profit highway

Source: Economic Times, 17 January 2023

A raft of regulations related to vehicle safety and emission expected in the coming months and the mega trend of electrification have come as a blessing in disguise for auto component manufacturers.

The new rules and the electrification trend are leading to an increase in the content per vehicle, in turn bumping up their revenue and boosting profitability, said top executives at auto component firms ET spoke with.

Every time emission standards have become tighter and fuel economy regulations tougher, companies like Cummins have succeeded and managed to increase business with every automaker, said Ashwath Ram, managing director at engine maker Cummins India.

India’s auto industry will transition to Bharat Stage VI-B emission standards with effect April 1. Passenger vehicle makers would also be required to disclose their corporate average fuel economy (CAFE-II) scores with the government by the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Under BSVI-B standards, companies need to also meet the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) rules. This is likely to lead to a price increase across categories as vehicles will need new components. For petrol vehicles, the price increase could be under 2%, while for diesel, it could be in the range of 3.0-3.5%, said Hemal Thakkar, director at Crisil Research.

“The regulations will help us grow our share in the pie and grow our pie,” said Ram of Cummins, adding that the company has ambitions to expand its business at twice the pace of the country’s GDP growth. “While doing that, we want to increase our profits by 1% every year till we get to our highest historical levels of profit of 18-20%,” he added.

In the years to come, Cummins plans to offer integrated powertrains and diversify into e-axles. The company showcased its future-readiness with its fuel agnostic and hydrogen engines at the ongoing Auto Expo in Greater Noida.

Compulsory deployment of some of the safety-related features like six airbags (expected to come into effect in October 2023), seat-belt reminders for rear-seat passengers and ESC (electronic stability control, now a feature only in high-end cars) has prompted manufacturers of these parts to watch the space closely.

“Addition of every airbag will improve the realisation for the airbag manufacturer and cost for the buyer,” said Thakkar of Crisil, adding that the cost of the vehicle would go up anywhere between ₹15,000 and ₹25,000 for incorporating four additional airbags. The costs don’t include any structural changes to the vehicle, he stated.

Jaisal Singh, vice chairman of the Anand Group, said regulation on ESC is an opportunity for the group. “It certainly presents an opportunity for us, and we are looking carefully, but we are constantly on the ball with regards to what’s coming next and as a result we start to equip ourselves from now.”

Some point to the flip side of the regulations. “Sometimes, after investing all the time and capital, it (regulations) don’t kick in at the time promised, putting a lot at stake,” said Praveen Aggarwal, chairman of the Vikas Group, citing an instance of TREM V – the emission standards for tractors, the implementation of which got deferred to 2023 from 2022. The Vikas Group is a manufacturer and supplier of components and aggregates including emission control units and precision machining solutions.

Be it these regulations or the electrification trend, a component maker needs to seize the opportunity at the right time, said Anil Kumar, president and MD at S.E.G Automotive.

Sundram Fasteners bags $250 million deal from global auto maker

Source: Economic Times, 17 January 2023

Sundram Fasteners, one of the largest suppliers to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and automakers globally has won the biggest contract in its 60-year history, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Chennai-based company has been awarded a $250 million (Rs2043.25 crore) contract by a leading global automobile manufacturer for the supply of sub-assemblies for its electric vehicle (EV) platform, it said. The deal is one of the largest won by a supplier in India for this range of products for an EV platform, the company claimed.

The company plans to invest Rs200 crore to support the new orders under the six-year long purchase package involving the supply of input and stator shaft sub-assemblies and drive gear sub-assemblies.

Sundaram Fasteners will ship the parts from its powertrain divisions located at Mahindra World City in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, and Sri City in Tirupati district, Andhra Pradesh. The parts will be serviced from its warehouse in North America.

SFL has estimated an annual sales peak of $52 million in 2026 with a supply of 1.5 million transmission sub-assemblies per annum.

“We are extremely delighted to win this prestigious award that marks a significant milestone in our Company’s history. The $250-million supply contract, one of the largest in India, is a further testimony to our commitment to manufacture and supply high-quality industry-leading products,” Arathi Krishna, managing director, Sundram Fasteners, said in the statement.

The win underscores the trust and confidence reposed in the company by its clients in India and globally. Going forward, it will spur expansion of the company’s global business as it continues to work on its strategic roadmap for the future, said Krishna.

The sub-assemblies will be used in the EV models like MHEV/PHEV/BEV, covering various segments including mid-size trucks, SUVs and sedans.

The launch of the new vehicles is planned from the North America platform in 2024. SFL will use special processes such as axial forming technology in the manufacturing of the products, which can withstand extreme temperatures and rigorous durability tests, meets high torque requirements and operate in a silent environment.

Car industry’s future belongs to India: Mercedes

Source: Economic Times, 20 January 2023

Ola Kallenius has many unique firsts to his credit as the 53-yearold traversed nearly three decades to make it to the top job at German automotive giant Mercedes-Benz. Born in Sweden, he not only became the first non-German to occupy the position of CEO as well as chairman of the board of Mercedes-Benz in 2019, but he also happens to be one of the first non-engineers to reach the coveted position as he came only with a finance and accounting background. As he navigates transformation of Mercedes-Benz from a producer of fuel-guzzling vehicles to an era of sustainability, connectivity, and electrics where American Tesla dominates, Kallenius counts India as one of the key enablers to drive the next phase of growth and innovation for the industry. “The future belongs to India,” Kallenius tells TOI. And, he counts not only the market’s potential for sales, but also immense tech talent at its Bangalore innovation hub. Excerpts:

How do you see the Indian car market, which has developed global scale but remains small for luxury makers?

India is one of the fastest growing markets for us globally. We are also one of the first players in India to start manufacturing electrics in the premium category. As a car industry, India closed 2022 at around 3. 8 million. Roughly, 1% of this was the upper-premium segment where we are the market leaders. I strongly believe that this segment is going to grow.  The gradient is pointing upwards. With continued upward economic growth of India, the future belongs to India. Upper middle-class and more wealthy people will look towards Mercedes. At the same time, may be one has to have a strategic patience and not extrapolate the curve from any other market.

You’ve been driving the global electrification journey at MercedesBenz. Do you think electrics are the future?

If you take it from a global level, climate change is real. We need to de-carbonise, we need to move off fossil fuels. So, it becomes a natural choice that electricity is the formof energy that you’ll use to propel a vehicle… in 2019, we gave ourselves a 20-year perspective and three product life cycles to do it. Since then, we have upped our ambitions and in the summer of 2021, we said that we should be able to go quicker. So, we made a decision that all new vehicle architectures from 2025 forward will be electrical. We are going from electric-first to electric-only… we are going to accelerate it. Is it going to be closer to 2039 or 2030? I’m going to say it’s going to be closer to 2030.

Did the rise of Elon Musk and his success with Tesla take you by surprise?

Do you think he is plain lucky or he is a genius? I made a habit in the sportthat I play to not comment on the playing skills of other sportsmen. But if I venture just a little bit, it’s no doubt that he has been a visionary technologist and also a catalyst for this change.

Your assessment of Bangalore centre, which is working on cutting-edge technologies. . .

I was super impressed when I visited our tech sanctuary in Bangalore to see both the product sites, where they are deeply involved in engineering of the next gen, operating system, etc, and on the process side as well. As we move towards de-carbonising engines, almost a bigger technological revolution is happening on the digital side. Few of those are programmed at Bangalore. Around 26 years back, we were one of the pioneers that came here when the auto industry really hadn’t yet detected India. Now we are so deeply rooted with our engineering effort here that the technologies that we develop in Bangalore are the technologies for Mercedes globally… a significant brain power is sitting in Bangalore… you’ll find India in every single Mercedes sold somewhere. Bangalore is an important part of the Mercedes-Benz brain.

Auto expo 2023: MG Motor drives in Euniq 7 hydrogen cell MPV with 605 km range & a 3-minute refuelling time

Source: Economic Times, 12 January 2023

MG Motor India on Thursday showcased the MG Euniq 7 (SAIC MAXUS Mifa) hydrogen cell-powered PMV on Day 2 of Auto Expo 2023. It was the world’s first MPV to be powered by fuel cell technology in 2020.

MG Motor recently showcased several pure electric and plug-in hybrid models that are being evaluated for an India launch such as the MG 4 EV and the eHS hybrid SUV. The Euniq 7 is the last instalment of that display of capability by the brand.

The MPV gets a range of up to 605 km and the best part is it takes only 3 minutes to refuel, given that the source tank is holding optimum pressure as well.

With a system power of 92 kW, the world-leading fuel cell technology adheres to the highest safety standards and performs well over key performance indicators including those for comfort, fuel economy, and service life, the company said in a statement.

The unit on display at the expo sported a dual paint colour scheme and has a heavy chrome treatment on the front. It also featured wrap-around LED headlamps with projector units. Overall, the MPV is over 5 meters in length and almost 2 meters wide. It gets electric sliding doors on either side and a large glass area separated by the B-pillar.

“The PROME P390 system promises excellent performance on these parameters with EUNIQ 7, a hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle, which not only has zero carbon emissions as it only emits water but also performs like an air purifier does, purifying air equivalent to 150 adults breathing in just one hour of driving,” said Rajeev Chaba, President and Managing Director, MG Motor India.

Premium material is used on the inside, such as dual-tone perforated leather, the front seats had ventilation and memory functions and the instrument cluster had digital display and another large display sat in the middle for the infotainment, TOI reported.

The centre console had physical buttons for a variety of functions along with the rotary drive selector dial.

The Euniq 7 comes with two ottoman-style business-class seat units for the second row. These get neck support, powered thigh support, armrests and more. The MPV also gets dual sunroofs to adjust the ambience as per passenger convenience.

The Euniq 7 gets SAIC’s PROM 390 hydrogen fuel cell technology, which has high durability, power density and reliability. The system comes with a 6.4 kg high-pressure hydrogen cylinder that has been tested at temperatures of up to 824 degrees to ensure safety and peace of mind.

India tops Japan to become world’s No. 3 auto market

Source: asia.nikkei.com, 06 January 2023

TOKYO/NEW DELHI — India eclipsed Japan in auto sales last year, according to the latest industry data, making it the third-largest auto market for the first time.

India’s sales of new vehicles totaled at least 4.25 million units, based on preliminary results, topping the 4.2 million sold in Japan.

New vehicles delivered in India totaled 4.13 million between January and November 2022, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Adding December’s sales volume reported Sunday by Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest carmaker, brings the total to roughly 4.25 million units.

India’s sales volume is expected to rise further with the inclusion of pending fourth-quarter sales figures for commercial vehicles, along with year-end results yet to be released by Tata Motors and other automakers.

In 2021, China continued to lead the global auto market, with 26.27 million vehicles sold. The U.S. remained second at 15.4 million vehicles, followed by Japan at 4.44 million units.

India’s auto market has fluctuated in recent years. Roughly 4.4 million vehicles were sold in 2018, but volume dipped below 4 million units in 2019, due primarily to the credit crunch that hit the nonbank sector that year.

When the COVID pandemic triggered a countrywide lockdown in 2020, vehicle sales plummeted further below the 3 million-unit mark. Sales recovered in 2021 to approach 4 million units, but the shortage of automotive chips weighed on growth.

Vehicles powered by gasoline, including hybrid vehicles, accounted for most of the new autos sold in India last year. Electric vehicles hardly have a presence. Autos for the Indian market are seen having fewer semiconductors than those sold in advanced economies.

The easing of the automotive chip crunch in 2022 provided a springboard for a recovery. Along with Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and other Indian automakers saw sales grow last year.

India is home to 1.4 billion people, and its population is expected to outstrip China sometime this year and continue growing until the early 2060s. Incomes are rising as well.

Only 8.5% of Indian households owned a passenger vehicle in 2021, according to British research firm Euromonitor, meaning there is plenty of room for sales growth. The government has started offering subsidies for EVs amid a trade deficit resulting from petroleum imports.

In Japan, 4,201,321 vehicles were sold last year, down 5.6% from 2021, according to data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association and the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association.

The omicron epidemic and the lockdowns in China greatly undercut production, leaving automakers unable to meet demand.

Japan’s auto sales peaked in 1990 at 7.77 million units, meaning sales have tumbled by nearly half from the all-time high. And the country’s declining population offers little prospect for a significant recovery in sales in the foreseeable future.

China surged past Japan to become the second-largest auto market in 2006. In 2009, China overtook the U.S. to become the world’s largest market.

Audi sales jump 27.14 pc to 4,187 units in 2022

Source: Economic Times, 02 January 2023

German luxury carmaker Audi on Monday reported a 27.14 per cent rise in its retail sales in India at 4,187 units in 2022. The company sold 3,293 units in 2021.

Although the supply chain challenges and semiconductor scarcity still hold back the full potential of growth, Audi India said its performance in 2022 was buoyed by a strong product portfolio, a revival in customer sentiment and strong business continuity.

The luxury carmaker also said it has increased the prices of its vehicles by up to 1.7 per cent in most of its models from January 1.

Audi India Head Balbir Singh Dhillon said the company’s growth in 2022 is higher than the estimated growth of 20-22 per cent of the luxury section in India and the company witnessed sales growth in all the segments it is present.

He said the company’s performance in 2022 was despite hitting roadblocks posed by global issues like semiconductor availability and shipment challenges.

Audi India said its sales uptick in 2022 was propelled by its three main launches – Audi Q7, Audi A8 L and Audi Q3. Besides, sedans A4 and A6, SUVs Q5 and Q8, and electric cars e-tron and e-tron Sportback remain volume sellers for the brand, the firm added.

“Not only are the sales numbers growing, but also the pre-owned business — Audi Approved: plus — is also growing. It’s actually growing more than double the new car sales,” Dhillon said.

The company has increased the number of Audi Approved: plus pre-owned car showrooms to 22 in 2022, up from 14 at the end of 2021, he added.

On the outlook for 2023, he said the company expects another strong performance in 2023 with its full range of products on offer — SUVs, sedans and electric cars.

“Our portfolio is complete, and our Q range, which was always our strength, is complete. Now, we will also be starting the deliveries of the new Q3 from this month,” Dhillon said.

Audi India’s current product line-up includes sedans A4, A6 and A8 L; SUVs, Q3, Q5, Q7 and Q8; sports cars S5 Sportback, RS 5 Sportback and RS Q8, along with electric offerings e-tron 50, e-tron 55, e-tron Sportback 55, e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT.