The 16th edition of the Symposium on International Automotive Technology (SIAT) was organised by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) in association with SAE International, SAE INDIA and National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) in Pune from 16-18 January, 2019. In its 34-year-history, this was the first time that the event was organised outside the ARAI facility – at the Oxford Golf Resort, Hill Top, Pune – for want of more space.
In sync with broad global megatrends of the mobility sector, the Government of India is looking to support public transportation, shared and electric mobility – including small vehicles such as two-wheelers – in the second stage of the FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles) policy for a five-year period starting April 2019. This will entail investments of about Rs 5,500 cr that will provide subsidies for all types of EVs, including two-, three- and four-wheelers.
This was announced by Dr Asha Ram Sihag, Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Govt of India while addressing the inaugural session at SIAT 2019. The investment is currently under discussion with the Ministry of Finance, but he expects FAME II to kick-off right after FAME I is phased out by the end of March 2019. It may be recalled that the government had sanctioned a corpus of Rs 795 cr under FAME I and had later added another Rs 100 cr.
Recently, the government also sanctioned setting up of 300 EV charging stations that are scheduled to come up in select highways and cities, including the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur and Mumbai-Pune highways. The government has been running 225 EV charging stations in different cities across India as pilot projects, Dr Sihag revealed. This is being done at a capital investment of ` 35 cr. In addition, Dr Sihag confirmed that homologation facilities for EVs at ARAI, Pune; GARC, Chennai and ICAT, Manesar as well as the new battery testing facility at NATRAX, Indore will be functional in CY2019.
He also highlighted a national policy direction for the automotive sector – termed “3-12-65” – become the third largest automotive market globally, contribute 12 % of the GDP, and generate 65 mn jobs. Calling upon institutions such as ARAI to engage with the private sector for R&D projects in new areas, Dr Sihag said the government is willing to fund such projects.
Earlier, Vikram Kirloskar, President, ARAI and Vice Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor delivered the inaugural address, wherein he urged the government to help the industry bridge the gap between technology development and regulatory framework and create an enabling eco-system.
The inaugural function was graced by Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director, ARAI; Dr Bala Bharadwaj, President, SAE India and Managing Director, Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center; Dr David Schutt, CEO, SAE International; Ms Neeti Sarkar, CEO & PD, NATRiP and CV Raman, Vice President, ARAI and Sr Executive Director (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India.
FOCUS ON METHANOL
In the valedictory session, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways announced the commissioning of a Center of Excellence (CoE) on methanol at ARAI as well as the M15 Blending Programme. The M15 Blending Programme would essentially mean blending 15 % methanol in petrol. ARAI has reportedly been working on methanol blending for some time, but further details on the programme are yet not clear. The Minister said his ministry will give the required financial assistance to ARAI for this programme.
This is interesting considering the government’s push towards finding viable alternatives to fossil fuels in recent years. For some time now, electromobility has received the biggest push. Then, there have been talks around the government’s plans to increase the target level for the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme from the 5 % to 10 % by 2022, and now the government is pushing for 20 % by 2030.
THEME & FOCUS
Themed ‘Empowering Mobility – Safe & Intelligent Way,’ SIAT 2019 served as a knowledge sharing forum for the automotive industry, with participation of eminent global experts from various automobile arenas. The symposium focussed on new developments in the automotive areas of safety, emissions, engines, noise, electric mobility, electronics, intelligent transportation, vehicle dynamics, materials, alternate fuels, and simulation and modelling. It also brought to the fore innovative ideas and solutions in automotive technologies that are aimed at meeting future challenges.
The event also included an exposition, which witnessed the participation of automotive OEMs, Tier-I/II/III suppliers, CAD/CAM/CAE tool providers, technologists, engineering service providers, and test agencies, along with a number of automotive industry experts. Overall, SIAT 2019 attracted participation of around 120 exhibitors, who demonstrated their products and services across 241 stalls.
The expo saw companies showcasing technologies for BS VI, vehicle safety/crash, vehicle electrification, vehicle telematics, NVH, simulation and modelling. The exhibitors showcased how their technologies and solutions would help future creators generate ideas for the enhancement of the automotive industry. SIAT 2019 saw global as well as local product and engineering companies dish out solutions customised for the Indian market, especially focussed towards the increasing regulations being implemented by the government in the areas of safety and emission reduction. In addition, another focus area was on technologies that would enable hybridisation of the powertrain as well as full electrification.
SIAT 2019 also featured technical sessions with around 120 research presentations in addition to two plenary sessions. The various technical sessions deliberated on topics such as electric & hybrid vehicular technology; emission measurement & control technology; testing & evaluation techniques; noise, vibration & harshness (NVH); autonomous & connected vehicles; active & passive safety; harmonisation of regulations; simulation & modelling (safety); and alternative fuels. Meanwhile, experts in the plenary sessions provided insights into the areas of safety, future mobility solutions, emissions, vehicle electrification and sustainability.
A highlight of SIAT 2019 was the panel discussion on ‘Collaborative R&D for Futuristic Mobility Solutions.’ The symposium also featured a student poster presentation competition, where shortlisted entries were exhibited at the Competition Booth. The poster competition invited students to showcase their ideas and innovations on three automotive areas – Safe Mobility, Sustainable Mobility and Smart Mobility.
TESTING & VALIDATION
Within the realm of engineering and technologies at SIAT 2019, the areas of testing, simulation and validation saw a high level of focus. A number of companies offering services as digital prototyping, validation tools and software as well as connected simulation services exhibited their products at the event. Solutions for various areas including body control, power steering, communication interfaces, infotainment, displays, clusters, rear-seat entertainment, ADAS cameras, and 360° cameras were also presented at SIAT. The areas of safety and connectivity saw the highest amount of solutions, since these are the two areas that are developing faster than any others for the automotive space.
Engineering service providers said while testing was carried out predominantly by Tier I suppliers earlier, OEMs nowadays are carrying out a lot of testing themselves. Additionally, in terms of automotive electronics, customers are foraying into areas of gateway and networking testing for vehicle communication. Testing is said to be used by companies not only for specific components, but also in the development of a new vehicle, for which requirements of in-vehicle electronics are being looked at four to five years before launch.
A common belief was that there is a need for testing of software, especially since there is a growing amount of electronics creeping into the vehicle. There is also the requirement for standards to be put in place in the testing and simulation space so as to necessitate safety. The role of testing is only expected to grow further with the adoption of electrification, since the safety levels required here are much higher.
Tier I suppliers observed that simulation and testing are getting more and more important due to shorter product development cycles in the automotive sector. It was observed that the development of software provides more tools that could then be used for developing components in an improved manner. Manufacturers also believed that platform-based testing and validation solutions offered by engineering service providers enables them to leverage the best of services from various companies, in order to enable them to develop products to the best of their capacity.
Overall, it is clear that simulation and virtual testing save time and cost for development of new products in the automotive industry. These technologies also enable implementation of improved levels of safety features into future models as well as make products more reliable.
SIAT 2019 brought together an explosion of technological solutions and innovations in the Indian automotive industry into a single venue. Delegates and visitors who attended this event gained insights into the tools and products necessary to address the future mobility requirements, which are expected to become much safer and smarter. The event also brought together the industry and the academia together, since this connect is becoming increasingly important to enable a higher quality of development of solutions and technologies in the industry.
TEXT: Naveen Arul & Deepangshu Dev Sarmah