Delphi Technologies is continuing to develop emission control systems in India for growing stringent emission norms, with the added demand for GDI engines, along with commercial vehicle emission control technologies
Ever since the wheel was invented, mobility technologies have been in constant evolution. With the invention of the internal combustion engine (ICE), the epoch of automobiles began. But along with this technology came unwanted and poisonous pollutants. With growing concerns over vehicular emissions across the globe, automotive companies have been striving to develop new technologies and products that offer enhanced emission control solutions.
In India, there is an ever-growing concern over the deteriorating air quality in metropolitan cities. While there are multiple factors contributing to the quality of air pollution, the government has come down heavily on automotive companies in a bid to control the rising levels of pollution. The Indian automotive industry is now on the cusp of adopting BS VI-compliant emission norms that have not only warranted the use of advanced emission control technologies but also prompted a few companies to rethink their business decisions.
EMISSION CONTROL SYSTEMS & BS VI
Delphi Technologies is one of the leading suppliers of solutions focussed on managing emissions. The company is highly impacted by emission norms and for automotive OEMs in India, it has been supplying a variety of systems to help them meet emission compliance regulations. We spoke to Rajendra Singh Chauhan, Managing Director, Delphi Technologies India, who said BS VI has been an opportunity for the company to contribute various solutions to the auto industry that has also resulted in the company’s growth.
For BS VI, the goals were set well in advance, and that offered the industry more time to prepare and adapt solutions to suit their product needs. As of today, some of the largest manufacturers in the country have around 70 % of their products compliant to BS VI. Automotive companies have been able to approach the development in a phased manner, engine by engine and platform by platform. While achieving emission control compliance for petrol-powered engines is relatively easier, similar technologies for diesel-powered models are expected to come at a significantly higher cost.
However, companies that are moving forward with diesel powertrains have taken on the challenge and by optimising the cost structure they have been able to reduce the expected cost by nearly half. This was possible because of the amount of time available to work on the existing solutions as well as find the right fit for their product and localise it. The announcement ahead of time has been a key factor in this case. Since many emission control technologies are globally available for Euro 7 norms, the need of the hour is to not only develop new technologies, but also adopt these technologies in an India context for Indian conditions and calibrating them. Calibrating these solutions in a phased manner has been the optimal method for most OEMs to achieve compliance across various product portfolios.
OUTLOOK FOR FUTURE EMISSION COMPLIANCE
Diesel powertrains are presently facing heavy scrutiny due to the nature of pollutants that it produces. For medium and heavy duty applications, diesel technologies will continue to being leveraged as they come with an enhanced utilisation and deliver adequate return on investment (ROI). Chauhan said this has been visible even in the temporary negative growth for CVs, as the utilisation has increased, ultimately leading to ROIs improving. In the future, even with an additional cost to implement emission compliance componentry, diesel-powered products may still be viable solutions that would deliver returns to the owners, he noted.
For smaller diesel-powered vehicles, the percentage addition of technologies is significant and will not be able to deliver ROI as a petrol-powered model would. This explains why certain companies dropped the idea of diesel-powered models post the implementation of BS VI norms. These companies are more focussed towards CAFÉ norms and CNG-powered solutions. As electrification progresses, its application in intra-city transport will be of huge value from an environmental perspective.
SCOPE FOR GDI ENGINES IN INDIA
Globally, GDI (gasoline direct injection) technologies have been adopted aggressively; however, the scenario in India is different. In contrast to global markets, India has predominantly been a market for smaller engines. While global countries are looking to downsize or right-size their engines, India is already right-sized. In order to meet fuel efficiency norms, GDI does enjoy an advantage and also enables reduction in engine size with forced induction.
For certain applications such as SUVs, where the weight is high, companies have opted to replace turbocharged diesel engines with GDI petrol engines with forced induction as they have comparable torque and power figures. In such applications, the technology has been successful in a big way. In India, engines primarily range from 1.0 l to 1.5 l, and in this scenario converting into a GDI does not give any specific advantage other than increasing the power and torque figures.
Given the current infrastructure in India, there are no requirements for such high power and torque outputs in engines, said Chauhan. Indian consumers are also more concerned over fuel efficiency rather than just power and torque. As far as BS VI goes, it does not mandate companies to use GDI technologies. Chauhan stated that GDI technologies will have some presence in India, but this will not be applied across the market like it is being done across other countries.
Another factor to be taken note of is the growing pace of electrification, and with the government’s push for electric vehicles, the need for GDI engines will be much lower in contrast to electrification. Electrification may take-off at a faster pace as compared to GDI technologies and considering that India is already right-sized, the technology may not be very popular among manufacturers in India, Chauhan pointed out.
OPTIMISING COMMERCIAL VEHICLE EMISSIONS
In India, the duty cycles for vehicles are different – this has been posing a challenge for many companies as these cycles are different from European duty cycles. In India the average start/stop and speeds are much lower; so meeting emission standards using existent solutions on Indian duty cycles has been a significant challenge.
From the perspective of making engines more efficient and reducing the amount of particulate matter in emissions, engine downsizing for commercial vehicles is important. Previously for diesel engines, pressures up to 1,000 bar were being used, which were further increased to 2,000 bar and then to 2,200 bar. At present, Delphi Technologies is developing engine pressures up to 2,500 bar and even more, which aids in increasing the engine’s efficiency.
To apply these technologies there is an associated additional cost, but in terms of improving the overall efficiency of engines, the benefits will gradually be visible. Chauhan further added that there may be a time in the future where it may not be possible to further increase the pressure in engines. Such improvements would have a certain cost associated with them, which may eventually not get justified going forward, in terms of efficiencies derived from diesel engines.
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
Delphi Technologies has been working on propulsion and emission control systems. Its Gurugram-based plant manufactures parts such as canisters and fuel delivery modules (FDM). The company is also supplying FDM systems to the region, including China and Thailand. The product team has an in-depth understanding of regional requirements and is adept at supporting client needs, Chauhan said. Further, with its capabilities to achieve cost targets and create benchmarks in this arena, Delphi Technologies has witnessed rapid growth in the Indian market.
Delphi Technologies is primarily an OEM-focussed organisation and develops products for OEM customers. However, it also has an aftermarket portfolio focussed more on building brand awareness and offering best-in-class products. At present, around 25 % of the company’s business comes from exports. With relatively premium price points, Chauhan claimed the company is also doing its share of contributing to the Make in India initiative.
Delphi Technologies has been producing canister emission control systems for over 20 years, and is doing business with select OEMs. Canisters are primarily a homologation part that is used to capture poisonous fumes of NOx and CO from unburnt fuel. It is filled with activated carbon that will capture the fumes and recirculate them to the engine. Although the part is rather simple to look at, it can simply be fixed on the vehicle and does not need to be replaced during its lifespan. As emission regulations turn more stringent, the engineering complexities of canisters will also go up. This product line has been one of the highest growth solutions developed by Delphi at a global level, and has also been very successful in India.
Delphi Technologies is also producing FDMs in India. The company began making them a little over 10 years ago and with these solutions, it has been able to capture around 20 % car market share for petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. FDMs are also being exported from India to certain OEMs globally. The company’s engineering capabilities in India are more than adequate to meet the application requirements from various OEMs in India for specific conditions prevalent in the sub-continent.
Chauhan claimed that Delphi has not only the right manufacturing footprint but also the right engineering footprint to support OEMs, developing and offering the right products at the right cost. The company continues to expect a lot of growth in this area as well.
Apart from canisters and FDMs, Delphi Technologies is now also focussing on sensors. While the company is engaged in discussions at this moment, it does not have a timeline for SOP or launch. However, it is aligned to add more product lines locally and increase export opportunities from India. Having said that, the priority will be first for the Indian market. The sensors solutions that the company offers are flexible and can be used for diesel and petrol vehicles.
Delphi Technologies has also been able to meet or exceed a lot of challenges in terms of energy consumption by certain products such as pumps, etc. This has been a key reason for growth and has helped improve fuel efficiency of the engine. Further, the company is focussing on downsizing and weight reduction of its products. Chauhan stated that Delphi Technologies has some of the lowest weights for pumps being offered across the market.
CONCLUSION – BEATING THE DOWNTURN
The current slowdown in the automotive market has had a small impact on the company but as compared to the rest of the industry, Chauhan claims it has not been as significant. “I feel our product mix was right and with the launch of BS VI, with new programmes coming in, we have offset any volume losses,” said Chauhan. The company has not experienced the kind of growth that was predicted in the beginning of 2019, but it is not as adversely impacted and revenues continue to grow although not as much as previously anticipated.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther & Anirudh Raheja
PHOTO: Joshua David Luther