SEG Automotive is bullish about the fast-growing Indian automotive market and is gearing up to meet the dynamic market needs. Auto Tech Review caught up with Anil Kumar M R, Managing Director, SEG Automotive, recently to know about the company’s initiatives towards reducing rising pollution concerns across the globe.
SEG Automotive, with headquarters in Stuttgart, recently launched SC60, a lightweight, compact start/stop motor for compact cars carrying small combustion engines in India. Despite being smaller in size, the motor has been designed to provide a starting power output of 1.2 kW and fuel savings of up to eight per cent. A start/stop function is controlled by an engine control unit (ECU) that shuts off the engine automatically, if the car shifts into neutral gear or comes to a complete halt. The engine comes back to life when the clutch is engaged in manual transmission or when the brake pedal is released in automatic transmission.
The system is designed to work in the background and is supported by an array of sensors that evaluate sensor information before becoming active. The system is activated only when a quick restart is guaranteed by the battery sensor depending on the battery charge level. Engine continues to be operational in case the desired temperature is not achieved inside the cabin. The system is also equipped with DC/DC converter for stabilising voltage of the electrical system during starts that ensures that the radio, navigation system or hands-free telephone operates without any interference or interruption.
The SEG Automotive MD said the company’s engineers are also working on extending shutdown times of the engine to further curtail CO2 emissions. The advanced start/stop developed by the company is designed to switch off the engine even when the vehicle is moving at slow speed, while coasting to a stop. SEG Automotive claims to offer up to 10 % fuel efficiency depending on the traffic and driving style.
FORAY INTO EVs
SEG Automotive ventured into the electric vehicle business after it was bought over by China-based ZMJ Group from Bosch, earlier this year. The company’s Boost Recuperation Machine (BRM) facilitates mild hybridisation as well as full electrification of smaller vehicles. Kumar said BRM introduces minor modifications in the engine and wiring to transform a conventional international combustion engine into a hybrid. The system facilitates regenerative braking that stores energy in lithium-ion batteries that can be later utilised to generate additional power during driving. This in turn enhances powertrain performance and facilitates coasting at high speed, while the engine is turned off. BRM eliminates the need for high-voltage protection or wiring harness and is positioned next to the engine, replacing the generator in assembly space to cut down fuel consumption by up to 15 %, Kumar explained.
Kumar also stated that the transformation from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles has to be a gradual one, as EVs may not bring in short to medium term benefits and cause 35 % more CO2 emissions than ICE as electricity production is not clean. There is a need for the government to frame a policy that creates a synergy between ICE and EVs to achieve its clean energy targets, he noted. While stricter CO2 targets mandate more efficient ICE technologies, putting in place an e-mobility policy should enable ramp-up of EVs, together with the readiness of the supply chain.
The automotive industry is racing against time to adhere to corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) norms and India is looking at stiffer CAFE norms of 113 gm/km by 2022. Kumar feels that the market penetration of start/stop system is hovering around less than five per cent now, and its deployment is expected to pick up steam over the next three to four years. There is talk that CAFE norms are expected to be further tightened in India to 104 gm/km in order to drive electric vehicle adoption. Thus, OEMs are also focussing on downsizing of the engine to control CO2 emissions and achieve 10 % more efficient cars between 2017 and 2021 and up to 30 % more post-2022. Kumar said there is immense potential to reduce carbon footprint right away by focussing on downsizing and 48 V hybridisation of ICE, while focussing on electrification of light vehicles such as e-scooters & e-rickshaws. The dense traffic situation in metropolitan areas also offers huge potential for the start-stop technology that is not yet widespread in India, Kumar noted.
SEG Automotive operates three plants in India – Bengaluru, Hassan and Chennai – and its current localisation level is around 80 %. The company currently exports around 35 % of its production and is focussing on augmenting capacity in India by up to 50 % over the next few years. Kumar said the company always has 20 % additional capacity to cater to the immediate customer requirements. SEG Automotive globally spends 6-8 % of its revenues on R&D and its activities are supported by a well-oiled international production network. The company clocked revenues of $ 1.72 bn last year, and is looking to $ 2 bn in revenues this year.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja