The Aurangabad-based Varroc Group, as part of its India business, supplies 16 metallic, electrical and polymer parts to two-wheelers in the country. Within this, the company is presently strongly focussed on the two-wheeler lighting business above other divisions, essentially because of the potential that lie in the largest two-wheeler market in the world. In an interaction at the just concluded Auto Expo 2016 – Components Show, Arjun Jain, Vice President and Business Head – Electrical, Varroc Group gave us a lowdown on company’s plans for the future and shared his thoughts on upcoming trends.
Varroc showcased a number of concept lighting systems at the Expo, especially compatible with two-wheelers in the Indian market. These concepts covered the broad range of two-wheeler segments, including scooter, commuter motorcycles and executive motorcycle models. The main aim of these concepts was to showcase the company’s lighting technologies, while also reiterating their affordability in the relevant segments of the market.
Jain said that the main focus for the company, from the point of view of lighting, is to use various new-generation technologies to create cost-effective and high-usability products. He said that three critical aspects need to be looked into while developing lighting systems for vehicles. Firstly, they need to be aesthetically good-looking, followed by the ability to provide good output for visibility, while conforming to regulations that govern this segment. Finally, the components need to be within the price range of the segment that the vehicle is sold in.
The concepts showcased by Varroc at the show mainly used LED and projector technologies, and incorporated daytime running lights (DRL). Jain noted that various lighting technologies, such as LED, projector and light guide detectors can be combined into the same product. The company is focusing on finding the requirements of the end-customers, so that appropriate lighting technologies are combined and applied to develop those products.
In comparison, Varroc’s lighting business for four-wheelers is smaller in size. Global and Indian technology trends for four-wheeler lighting are different, and the company tries to win in the market, given its experience with Varroc Lighting Systems as a global four-wheeler lighting systems manufacturer, noted Jain. He added that the Indian four-wheeler lighting technologies rely strongly on meeting regulations, but beyond that the company’s large footprint will help it to penetrate into more segments with cost-effective solutions.
Electronics is a fast-moving segment in the automotive industry, and Varroc is in the process of figuring out its area of play in the segment, said Jain. It currently manufactures capacitor discharge ignition (CDI), regulator rectifiers (RR), digital instrument clusters, as well as electronics for its lighting systems, and has a strong view of the market in 2020 and beyond. Based on that, the company is developing relevant technologies in these areas.
Jain noted that electronic systems like fuel injection (EFI) systems, for instance, and even electric vehicles (EV) may be a threat to the existing product portfolio, but that provides a platform to graduate the company’s products to service the market in alternate ways. He expects electronics to play a large part in future EFI, hybrid or full EV solutions. Varroc’s strategy would be to have a clear roadmap for all these technologies, and depending on which of them performs well in the market, it is prepared to act accordingly. Jain added that Varroc is developing stronger control systems to be applied in various vehicle sub-systems.
Over the years, the company has built a strong capability on R&D with regards to the electrical and electronics business unit. He added that the business unit addresses customer sensitivity swiftly with new product development. At this stage, the business unit invests back about 1-2 % of its revenue into R&D. Additionally, Jain said that R&D teams for lighting and electronics are moving into a combined technology centre, and will be doubled in size in 2017. This is expected to lead to cross-pollination of ideas, and better development of products.
FUTURE FOCUS & ROADMAP
Varroc is working on becoming a technology partner to its customers, and collaborate on technologies and early-stage product development. It is also looking to change its perception with non-customers and converting them, by offering products that are required, said Jain.
Jain is mindful of the fact that new technologies could dampen the demand for the company’s existing products in times to come. To prepare for upcoming trends, the company is increasingly looking at manufacturing products like EFI systems. It is not only developing products keeping in view the trends seen in the automotive industry, but is also making products that will cater to regulations expected in the future.
Varroc Group is looking at expanding its business units strategically, with the main focus on relevant product development and increased technology offerings. It is actively looking at partnerships with other industry players to bring technologies that would enhance its product line and increase its service capabilities. To that end, the company is also enhancing and re-aligning its R&D capabilities, Jain concluded.
Text: Naveen Arul