The 2020 Auto Expo – Components Show – brushed aside the slowdown blues and epitomised the strength of the country’s auto component industry.
The slowdown clouds may have been hovering over the Indian auto industry over the past 15 months or so, but it did not appear to have any adverse impact on the recently-held 2020 Auto Expo – Components Show at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The show attracted around 115,000 visitors, which surely must have sounded like music to the ears of the downturn-hit component industry. The outbreak of the coronavirus in China did threaten to act as a dampener on the show, but timely precautionary measures undertaken by the organisers – the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – ensured Asia’s largest and most comprehensive auto component show lived up to its expectations.
UPBEAT EXHIBITOR SENTIMENT
Themed ‘Technovation – Discover Innovations for Future’, the four-day event interestingly witnessed a 25 % increase in the number of exhibitors over the 2018 edition; thus, underpinning the upbeat mood among the automotive component fraternity notwithstanding the downbeat market sentiments. The show was held at a separate venue for the fourth consecutive time (the 2012 was the last edition when the Auto Expo – Motor Show and the Components Show were held at the same venue at Pragati Maidan).
The biennial show showcased more than 1,200 products and technologies from over 1,500 companies, including 400 international exhibitors from 20 countries, out of which more than 200 were Chinese companies. The show featured seven focussed pavilions for bearings, garage equipment, electric vehicles, start-ups, safer drives, future technologies and innovations. In fact, electric vehicles, start-ups, future technologies and innovations were first-time initiatives of the organisers. Further, the show featured international pavilions from Great Britain, China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Canada and Germany.
The auto market environment may have been far from ideal, but the show spoke of one language in no uncertain terms – one of resilience. “The component industry has started to mature and is taking business cycles in its stride because it has been going through a prolonged slowdown and yet we did not see any signs of panic,” observed Vinnie Mehta, Director General, ACMA. The Components Show managed to attract the top leadership of global OEMs as well as procurement teams from all OEMs that only reaffirms the faith of OEMs in the Indian automotive component industry, noted the ACMA DG.
Notwithstanding the outbreak of the coronavirus, the might of China as a redoubtable global automotive supplier was unleashed at the show. “The fact that more than 200 Chinese suppliers were part of the show clearly demonstrates that China is looking at India as its major supply destination,” opined Vinay Piparsania, Consulting Director – Automotive, Counterpoint Research.
He shared his perspective on how component manufacturers are not just producing components, but also emerging as solution providers. “The power is clearly shifting between OEMs and Tier I suppliers. Automakers are fundamentally depending on their suppliers to deal with everything, from ultra-modern redesigns to advanced hardware and software, to progressive lightweight materials. With automakers racing against time to incorporate more and more technology in their vehicles, suppliers have had to reimagine their operations and R&D strategies,” he pointed out.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Rajan Wadhera, President, SIAM, while offering a thumbs-up to the auto component fraternity for helping the vehicle industry implement BS 6 emission norms, urged the auto component industry to focus on substantial R&D investments. “India’s product development and manufacturing knowhow are well known and what it needs is design knowhow for the country to move ahead,” he said.
Electrification clearly stood out in ample measure at the Component Show. American component behemoth BorgWarner showcased its clean and efficient technology solutions for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles such as battery, cabin heater and the innovative gasoline VTG turbocharger. These technologies were exhibited alongside its P2 on-axis hybrid module and advanced battery packs for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Another exhibitor who made its presence felt in the electrification space was SEG Automotive, who unveiled two new products – an 8 kW e-motor for electric three-wheelers and a 5 kW e-motor for electric two-wheelers. These e-motors offer best-in-class efficiency and reliability, thus increasing range and further reducing the total cost of ownership, claimed the company.
Altigreen Propulsion Labs grabbed the attention of business visitors even as it put on display its completely-integrated system for electric three-wheelers that can be used to move people or cargo. The company’s solution consists of the motor, gear box, power electronics, control electronics, software, wiring harness and smart display all wrapped into one – it also offers advanced connectivity for smart features, which can be customised by OEMs to their individual flavour for a unique user experience. The vehicle features an in-house designed e-axle that transfers the power of the motor to the wheels as well as an independent suspension that ensures increased levels of comfort and usability. The e-axle was designed in-house in order to offer improvements to the gearbox and shaft, thereby enhancing the overall efficiency, while cutting down on mechanical losses.
Further, catering to the requirements of electronics content in EVs, Gurugram-based Napino Auto & Electronics showcased its DC converters, battery chargers, motor controllers, BMS, hub wheel motors, battery packs, e-throttles and mid-drive motors.
FOCUS ON SAFETY
If electrification held centrestage, safety was not far behind. The country has earned notoriety for road fatalities for many decades now – as many as 400 people die every day, which translates into 150,000 deaths every year, only accentuating the need for a sustained effort towards addressing the issue of road safety.
At the inaugural ceremony of the Components Show, Rama Shankar Pandey, Managing Director, Hella India Lighting & Chairman, ACMA Aftermarket Committee, elaborately focussed on road safety, and along with the gathering took seven safety pledges aimed at ensuring road safety and safer lives. He wrapped up his speech by stating that road crash is a science and not an act of God.
The ACMA Safer Drive booth witnessed various measures undertaken for road safety. One of the focus areas was operation-related injuries sustained by workers in the auto industry. A report prepared by the NGO Safe-in-India Foundation was on display at the booth, which stated that thousands of workers sustain injuries every year at auto factories ranging from losing fingers, injuring or fracturing forearms, hands, shoulder, upper arms, eyes, head, and legs, among others.
Another highlight of the show was an aftermarket seminar, where the focus was on dispensing with spurious auto parts and using genuine parts. It is estimated that spurious parts constitute around
30 % of the Indian aftermarket.
Sandhar Technologies also hopped onto the safety bandwagon, showcasing solutions focussed around passive vehicle safety – it unveiled the Advanced Hood Lift System (AHLS), wherein the vehicle’s front and rear hood are raised immediately, when it collides with a pedestrian. The AHLS, which is based on sensor signals, helps reduce pedestrian impact. Sandhar expects to commercially roll out AHLS in the Indian market soon.
Connected technologies were also the cynosure of all and sundry at the show. Varroc Engineering displayed its telematics solutions that combine its proprietary hardware with software and data analytics solutions from CarIQ – a Pune-based telematics company that Varroc had acquired last year. These solutions make a vehicle smarter by providing vital information about a vehicle’s health, location and safety, thus making them useful for vehicle owners, OEMs, fleet owners, and finance & insurance companies. Varroc has also integrated its telematics solutions with instrument clusters to provide on-the-go information to end users, such as vehicle health parameters and turn-by-turn navigation.
Bengaluru-based iTriangle Infotech showcased its wide range of AIS-140-compliant GPS tracking devices with panic button, 4G functionality and live camera support to monitor driver activity.
Hella brought on display its innovative rain-light sensor (RLS) for aftermarket application, which can be integrated into the vehicle body control module (BCM). This RLS offers automatic headlamp and wiper functionalities. The company has also introduced its unique electronic horn with an electronic printed circuit board (PCB) that eliminates diaphragm, thimbles and coil, thus ensuring longer life.
The bearing booths attracted a lot of attention at the show. NBC Bearings unveiled its specially-coated needle bearings, which will be manufactured to ensure increased lightweighting, longer life and reduced friction. This will cater to the two-wheeler and four-wheeler segments.
Bengaluru-based igus GmbH displayed its different types of polymer bearings such as iglidur polymer sliding bearings, igubal bearings and drylin bearings that do not need additional lubrication throughout its life cycle, unlike metal bearings. These bearings are lightweight and ensure higher life.
One of the growing trends in the auto industry is enhanced interior vehicle comfort. Paracoat Products showcased a thermal drink holder that enables vehicle occupants to keep their coffee hot or their cold drink cold by putting it on the thermal drink holder. The company also unveiled a steering wheel heater and cooler, which can help keep temperatures under control during summer and winter.
Lumax-DK Jain Group under the theme ‘Driving the Future’, showcased its automotive lighting and driveline products as a full system supplier. The company, in collaboration with its existing and new global partners, also showcased new products in the areas of power electronics, emission sensors, and lightweight plastics, among others.
The 2020 Auto Expo – Components Show braved the slowdown blues and emerged as a crowd-puller on all four days of the show. The overwhelming presence of Chinese suppliers only raised the profile of the show. In fact, the three trends of electrification, vehicle safety and connected technologies really stood out, providing a roadmap for the component industry to take going forward.
TEXT: Suhrid Barua
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay