The oxygen sensor (O2) market is expected to get a major boost with the implementation of BS VI by 2020, and one company that intends to further strengthen its position as a result of this is Lumax Auto Technologies. Auto Tech Review spoke to Deepak Jain, Promoter Director, Lumax Auto Technologies, to understand the nuances of this technology and how the Indian automobile industry will see a paradigm shift in the years to come, because of this.
The demand for oxygen sensors is expected to increase manifold in the next few years in the Indian automotive industry, and Lumax is bullish about the two-wheeler segment becoming a volume generator for this technology. An O2 sensor monitors the gases emitted by the vehicles engine and helps maintain the appropriate air-fuel mixture to facilitate efficient functioning of the engine, in accordance to the emissions norms.
The product can significantly enhance the fuel efficiency of a vehicle and will play a critical role in aligning with BS VI emission norms. Besides, it also prevents damage to critical parts in the engine, thus adding to the longevity of the vehicle. With the new emission norms that will be implemented in 2020, two-wheelers will also require the use of oxygen sensors and given the fact that India is the fastest growing market for two-wheelers in the world, Lumax intends to leverage its expertise in this domain to gain a first-mover advantage.
Oxygen sensors have multiple embedded technologies and are a key component for the efficient burning of the air-fuel mixture. Modern day computerised engine control systems rely on inputs from a variety of sensors to regulate engine performance, emissions and other important functions. The sensors must provide accurate information, otherwise drivability problems, increased fuel consumption and emission failures can occur.
Jain said that due to the regulatory environment and framework in the country, there is a need to use O2 sensors for fuel injection systems. Lumax intends to rely on its partners to provide the technology platform, while they would provide the customer connect and local know-how and market awareness. While April 2020 is the deadline set by the government, Lumax expects its own technology and production sites to be ready by 2019.
Another influencing factor would be the regulations for on board diagnostics (OBD) coming up in the future. The industry estimates these to be in place by 2023 to 2025. This is expected to almost double the oxygen sensor market for two-wheelers. Currently, the use of this technology is not mandated for the segment, hence there is negligible usage of O2 sensors in two-wheelers. BS VI though, will require OEMs to initially install one sensor per bike and going forward, it would be two units per bike. This presents Lumax with an opportunity to expand its business in a short time frame of five years. With this increase in business and subsequent volumes, Jain said that localisation will also increase to create an organised value chain that can serve customers better.
The transition to BS VI for the Indian two-wheeler market will be the largest switch over for a segment spanning such a wide spectrum of engine displacement capacities and price range. The host of technology changes that would go in to make a vehicle BS VI ready is expected to escalate prices, but Jain believes that by 2020 the Indian economy would be in a better financial position and disposable income levels would have gone up, thereby offsetting the price rise at least partially.
Another outcome of this revolutionary transformation could be the evolution of two-wheeler segment. Low-capacity, high-volume segments like the 100cc or 125cc motorcycles might evolve and reach bigger displacements, with engines that are fully compliant with BS VI norms and are also aligned to global motorcycling standards. Lumax expects the current 20 million strong two-wheeler market to remain robust and grow even during the BS VI implementation phase.
The Indian two-wheeler market still has substantial latent demand in terms of geographical outreach. Rural demand trends are significantly different from urban customer needs. Technology adoption at the behest of BS VI is expected to open up newer markets and enhance knowledge sharing among the different demographics in India. Lumax’s technological partners in Europe have the know-how for two-wheeler sensors and Jain intends to use their expertise in developing India-centric sensors for two-wheeler application in due course of time.
The government mandating BS VI for two- and four-wheelers not only helps the industry achieve economies of scale, but also makes vehicles ready for global markets. Conforming to Euro VI norms, BS VI compliant vehicles can be exported to developed and developing markets, without homologation challenges. This will further advance India’s position as an important hub for the development of automotive technologies and the manufacturing of globally relevant vehicles.
Component manufacturers need to keep an eye on global technology trends and their adaptability in the Indian context. Fine tuning these ideas and concepts according to domestic requirements and maintaining a competitive cost structure is the need of the hour for a successful run in the market, and Lumax is all set to achieve these very goals in the years to come.
Lumax does not plan to have a centralised R&D, as it has multiple partners and product lines. The technology resides with the separate entities, and depending upon the longevity of the partnership, along with the customer requirements, a clear plan is drawn to have self-reliant technology. R&D is a function of innovation and economies of scale, which justifies continuous investments and the Indian market today is successfully doing just that.
TEXT: Anwesh Koley