The automotive industry is witnessing increasing sophistication in vehicles, which also brings to the fore a bigger focus on newer safety systems
Sandhar Technologies and Taiwan-based Whetron Electronics had formed a joint venture (JV) back in June 2018 to cater to the anticipated demand in this space. The JV, named Sandhar Whetron Electronics, recently inaugurated its new assembly area at Sandhar’s Dhumaspur facility in Gurugram, to roll out best-in-class technologies to meet the growing market needs. Auto Tech Review met up with Jayant Davar, Founder, Co-Chairman & Managing Director, Sandhar Technologies (Above) and Steven Chiang, President, Whetron Electronics (Below) to understand more about how they are collaborating to address the Indian market.
Introducing vehicle safety systems in the mass market segment has been among the top priorities of the central government. This mandate will demand a host of technologies working in tandem such as vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity as well as passenger-vehicle communication to ensure safer mobility. Sandhar Whetron Electronics will address the growing automotive technology trends in India and has set-up assembly lines for parking sensors and electronic control units (ECUs) as well as cameras at its Dhumaspur facility.
The company also conducts in-house functional tests for its products to ensure a robust final product roll-out. With safety at optimised costs being of paramount importance even for the mass market, Sandhar Whetron will also aim to localise printed circuit boards (PCBs) that will whittle down costs by as much as 20 % over the next few years, said Davar. The company is currently serving Honda Cars India through the import route. It will also cater to the market needs of SML Isuzu for which the supply of safety systems will start soon.
Sandhar Whetron is currently equipped with a manufacturing capacity to roll out 200,000 units of parking sensors, which will eventually be built up to 1.5-2 mn units. The JV banks on Whetron’s global expertise in developing automotive electronics and will gradually roll out a variety of products across four key areas – camera (rear camera view, around view monitor, lane departure, driver monitoring, driving video recorder), wireless (wireless charging, remote keyless entry, passive entry passive start), radar (blind sport detection, rear cross traffic alerts) and ultrasonic domains (parking sensors, semi-auto parking, auto parking, auto electronic braking).
As India is poised to emerge as the world‘s biggest automotive market, Chiang feels that it is the right time to enter and expand the company’s electronics portfolio. Safety assistance systems are increasingly the most-sought-after in the market and the government should provide incentives for companies that can bring in advanced technologies at reasonable costs.
Over the last three years, Sandhar Technologies has invested around ` 120 cr to expand its horizons in the automotive segment. While the company focusses heavily on research and development of new products and invested 3.2 % of its annual revenues on the same and filed 20 patents over the last few years, it has also signed as many as eight JVs over the last four years with experts in various automotive domains, including Whetron. According to the company, not everyone can be experts in everything and collaborations should be seen from a strategic growth perspective in order to address the ever-rising costs.
Sandhar Group also signed two new JVs with Korea-based Hanshin Corporation and Winnercom in mid-2019. Among the equally split JVs, Sandhar & Hanshin has joined hands to tap the high-end data cables market for the automotive industry, wherein the JV will jointly roll out AV/NAVI cable, GPS/DMB cable, radio cable as well as AVM cable and is expected to commence production by Q4 FY20. These products are considered to be key components in EV communication controllers and is expected to be a $ 120 bn market by 2025. The market for such components are driven by the rising integration of advanced features for increasing driving experience and growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
Through its partnership with Winnercom, Sandhar aims to gain market share by offering electronic products such as shark fin antenna, micro pole antenna and other products for the four-wheeler segment. The plant is scheduled to open in Bengaluru in March 2020. The move will enable the company to consolidate its position in the connected car device market, which is expected to cross $ 57.15 bn by 2021. Collaboration enables developing newer technologies at optimised costs as well as offers global OEMs a certain degree of comfort based on our engineering capabilities, observed Davar.
With many disruptive changes taking place simultaneously to address pollution and congestion problems across the world, sales of electric vehicles are only poised to grow. From a realistic standpoint, because of the lack of infrastructure, EV technologies will take time to mature and be accessible for the mass market.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja