While internal combustion engine (ICE) presently dominates the global mobility, the demand for efficient emission reduction technology is on the rise. There is a growth in awareness on clean energy and vehicular safety among Indian consumers and an increased commitment from OEMs, says Dr Markus Distelhoff, Executive Vice President Fuel & Exhaust Management Business Unit, Powertrain, Continental Automotive. Prior to this role, Dr Distelhoff - who has over 15 years of experience in the global manufacturing industry - served as the Managing Director for Continental Automotive India and was instrumental in setting up the operations here. He believes schemes such as FAME will drive the demand for plug-in hybrids as well as full electric vehicles in India. In conversation with Rakesh Rao, Dr Markus Distelhoff tracks emerging trends in the automotive technology market and the importance of India in the global auto industry.
It has been a great journey for Continental, with a good record of technology achievements, growing manufacturing and R&D footprint and unwavering commitment to the local market. Continental has made substantial investment in India, with the presence of both automotive and rubber groups. As an organisation, it is great to be part of this growing economy. We have always recognised the potential of the Indian automotive market as well as India’s USP of being a hub for high quality engineering talent. We believe that clean, intelligent, and connected vehicles are the future, and our technology is fully equipped to support the growth of the automotive industry. We are looking ahead at years of stable growth of the Indian automobile industry.
Localisation is important to meet the specific technology and cost requirements of the Indian market. We globally follow a strategy of “In the market for the market” and localisation has been at the core of our India strategy. We localise the entire value chain, starting from marketing to R&D to design according to local customers’ requirements. This will be the case with our powertrain business as well.
Globally, we are witnessing a trend to more demand regulated systems and move to electronically commutated pumps with necessary electronics. Our flange integrated electronics helps us to integrate the fuel module and pump electronics into one integrated package.
TCI provides high quality, cost effective, engineering solutions to all three automotive divisions (Chassis & Safety, Powertrain and Interior) of Continental, not just to my business unit. Today, they support end-to-end product development from requirement engineering to vehicle build-up and testing in specific areas encompassing software, electronics and mechanics.
While TCI supports all three automotive divisions for all markets, they also contribute highly to the development of products tailored specifically for emerging markets. Our Automotive Group has a comprehensive, scalable product portfolio to satisfy the growing market for small and compact cars as well as motorcycles.
The transition from combustion engine to e-mobility will massively pick up speed only between 2025 and 2030. Only sometime in between will the number of combustion engines attain their peak value worldwide and, from then on, will fall moderately.
In addition to trendsetting technologies such as automated and autonomous driving, smart infotainment, and lightweight design, several very fundamental trends are influencing the sector: digitalization, sustainability, efficiency, and cost saving are as much a part of the automotive sector as safety on the roads and comfort and convenience while driving.
In India, I think incentive schemes like FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) will drive the uptake of 48 Volt mild hybrid systems, full and plug-in hybrids as well as full electric vehicles.