Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII
How do you view the Indian automotive industry currently and what are your expectations from Auto Expo 2018?
The automotive industry has always been a significant contributor to the Indian manufacturing sector. Its robust performance in 2017 is very heartening and shows that the sector is adapting quickly to changes in consumption patterns, technology, and sustainability imperatives. It is indeed a great achievement that India is now the fourth largest production centre for passenger cars with 4 million units, overtaking Germany. The country is on track to emerge as one of the top three global car producers by 2020.
In terms of auto components, Indian manufacturers remain among the most competitive and innovative in the world. The industry is witnessing huge shifts on account of acceleration in electric and hybrid vehicles, increasing standards for clean and efficient use of energy, customer expectations, and rising penetration of roads and highways. Rapid product development and flexibility are crucial to the sector and it is making admirable improvements.
At Auto Expo 2018, we expect these trends to be showcased to the world with Indian capabilities attracting increased attention. The Auto Expo has grown exponentially over the last few editions, and diversified its offerings. The vehicle and component segments now have separate shows that demonstrate the immense variety of sub-segments and products. CII believes that the diverse platforms offered at the two shows in 2018 will further drive innovation and agility as well as spur business interactions. At each Auto Expo, the interest of the public at large is very encouraging and this year too, we are sure to attract huge crowds, mirroring the sector’s emotional connect with consumers.
What role can CII play in helping the automotive industry develop its technology and innovation potential?
CII’s engagement in the technology and innovation sector as a whole is very strong. We are involved in identifying trends, developing policy solutions, forging partnerships with global agencies, and assisting the industry to stay ahead of the curve. Our focus on quality has helped automotive companies structure their innovation models for continuous improvement. I’m proud that CII has worked with many companies and enabled them to get the prestigious Deming Award for Quality, which has propelled their technology and innovation systems. In addition, CII also spearheads the cluster learning program, the Visionary Leaders for Manufacturing (VLFM) program, and the Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA). I’m happy to note that the automotive sector has been at the forefront of availing these programmes and has benefited, in terms of aligning with global needs. CII would continue to work with enterprises to accelerate the innovation and technology processes.
How does CII perceive the future of mobility in India and what are the dominant trends you expect in 2018?
Mobility is one area that is witnessing a visible change that is impacting producers as well as consumers in both urban and rural areas. The roads and highways programme received a significant impetus last year and this will add to the connectivity through the PM Gram Sadak Yojana in villages and the Bharatmala project for faster movement across the country.
Infrastructure is one change, and the other is the introduction of the GST which has already transformed the movement of goods in India over the last few months. Truck transport has become faster and cheaper, and the e-way bill to be introduced in February will further improve the sector. Two-wheelers and three-wheelers can be expected to become more energy efficient, especially as oil prices have been going up.
In urban areas, the advent of aggregator platforms is changing the way people commute. At the same time, the demand for utility vehicles is rapidly increasing and young consumers are keen to have value-added vehicles with new technologies. The rapid spread of metros in many cities and the imperative of efficient public transportation will shift the way buses are used.
Overlaying all of these developments is the movement towards e-vehicles, which will influence the entire transportation sector in rural and urban areas. There is a likelihood of charging stations and batteries being developed with scale, encouraging increasing shift towards the use of these vehicles in a big way. India can emerge as a key global manufacturer, given the right policy structure for e-vehicles.
Lastly, the emissions and standards norms can be expected to be stricter, leading to better fuel efficiency and adjustment in production processes.
What is your take on the multiple norms being implemented for the auto sector in India currently and in the future?
Norms for safety, energy use, fuel efficiency and sustainability are important. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed at his address in Davos, climate change is emerging as the most important concern. Air pollution is causing stress in cities. Accordingly, the automotive sector must adhere to emerging norms and standards. We would hope that these are reasonable and stable, and also provide sufficient time for adjustment of production processes, and CII would continue to take up policy matters as and when required. Auto Expo will be a platform for building greater understanding on these issues.