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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Powertrain manufacturers are investing in green energy solutions
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Diesel technology has a low shelf life when it comes to passenger vehicles. Therefore most of the power train manufacturers are already deep diving and investing in green energy solutions. In this interaction, Amit Verma, Director, India/South east/Asia Pacific, AxleTech, tells APF’s Neellohit Banerjee, that in providing an alternate solution to the conventional and traditional powertrains, there is a perspicuous trend in the industry of shifting to eco-friendly green solutions which include hybrid, pure electric or even fuel cell vehicles.
Powertrain is one of the most important parts of any vehicle. Keeping that in mind, what are the recent trends in automotive powertrains?
Powertrain is considered to be the most important aggregate in any machine which has mobility. In fact it is the back bone of vehicle mobility itself. A lot of thrust has been put by global trends, local regulations and market force to go green and become eco-friendly and at the same time all this minimum disruption. Automotive powertrain in near term would see a paradigm shift to move along the market force, to provide a viable alternate solution against the current traditional and conventional ones.
We can hear almost every day that someone somewhere is investing in electric vehicles, either in power pack solutions (battery and its management) or in integration/propulsion. So the trend is crystal clear and the industry is going to move from conventional to eco-friendly green solutions which include hybrid, pure electric or even fuel cell vehicles.
In this context, Maruti Suzuki has announced that it will stop producing diesel cars in India. How is it going to affect powertrain manufacturers?
On a longer term, impact will be minimum since the announcement is not at all surprising. Under current scenario, diesel technology has a low remaining shelf life when it comes to passenger vehicles. Therefore most of the powertrain manufacturers are already deep diving and investing in green energy solutions. In near term, it could have some impact on lower capacity utilisation effecting top and bottom lines; even some job losses too. But as stated, these companies would adapt and move in the direction as the leader moves, like in this case Maruti.
Where does the industry head from here?
Maruti Suzuki being a market leader in India, has to lead with example so that others also follow. The only important point to keep in mind is timing and transition. When it comes to EVs or electric PVs, there is no company in India which claims that it has the right technology and infrastructure to displace petrol/diesel right away.
The changeover has to happen gradually and cautiously; transitioning is the key factor in implementation of green vehicle, unlike engines of Euro 4 to Euro 6 or BS 4 to BS 6, which keep the fundamental platform of power generation and powertrain same. The change to e-platform is an overall shift in dynamics of power generation and propulsion.
If someone has to put their money and choice for the future is between diesel technology and electric, trends say the answer of most automotive companies is putting money on electric or green solutions. In the case of EVs, including hybrids, the rate of change of technology is much higher than the rate of traditional petroleum based technology, and there investments are to be made on a continuous basis and for a longer time until it stabilizes. Many articles talk about how one of the largest car makers in the world has stopped hiring petrol/diesel engine/transmissions engineers/specialist/ product managers since 2014 onwards.
Does this somehow pave the way for electric powertrains in India?
This is definitely a first step towards moving in the direction of eco friendly vehicles and will pave way for electric powertrain. Public infrastructure, consumer and manufacturer mindset need to sync with the change. For example, even in a country such as China, where EVs, especially buses and trucks for on highway were launched almost 14 years ago and now a success story in all major and minor metros, infrastructure was one of the biggest challenges China faced. Now, China is far ahead of any country in any kind of infrastructure required for vehicle mobility.
AxleTech recently introduced its AFE series of electric powertrain systems. Can you tell us about it and what its advantages are?
AxleTech is known for providing world class solutions in driveline with special focus on the off highway market and applications in material handling, construction, mining, ground support equipment and military. AFE series of electric powertrain is about the complete integrated package of axles with motor/invertor and VCU. AxleTech not only provides the e-axles but also helps in integrating the axle with the propulsion. Some of the key advantages of AFE include superior power to weight ratio, can come with a variety of reduction ratio and has planetary wheel ends; multiple brake options are also available depending on the application requirement. Like AxleTech solutions for tradition drivelines which caters to specialty trucks and machines, AFE also has similar features, benefits and advantages
What is your observation regarding the powertrain market and how do you plan to grow in India?
India is growing faster in most of the automotive segments (PV, LCV, ICV, M&HCV and buses), so powertrain follows the market and it needs no further explanation. AxleTech is providing solutions to Indian customers since 2001 when the company was owned under Global Giant Rockwell International. Even if you go to our key customers today, they are used to follow the engineering prints, drawings and application data as made and approved by Rockwell then.
AxleTech has invested in India by setting up a manufacturing plant in Pune, engineering and design office in Bangalore, and sales and head office in Delhi for our key customers in the region, and our products are our differentiators. The plant was set up and operational since 2015, but sales service and application support were provided long before that. We are growing faster than the market as we cater to several different market segments and applications. We are not just dependent on one segment, for instance the military, which is very cyclic in nature and has ups and down. We have made strong head ways towards segments such as material handling, construction, mining, ground support equipment etc.
What are the other opportunities that lie in the automotive powertrain market and how does AxleTech intend to tap those opportunities?
Other opportunities in automotive powertrain are for on highway trucks and buses which have AxleTech Applications on several programmes in India and SEA. Also, we are investigating electrification of off-highway machines like ground support equipment, fork lifts and container handlers, cranes and mining equipments. Globally, we have started to work on electric programmes for miltary trucks.
Green Energy Solutions
Trucks And Machines
Global Giant Rockwell International
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