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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Penetration of aluminium wheel will go up
Penetration of aluminium wheel will go up
Wheels achieving magical combination of lightweight and safety
Auto components: Investments are inevitable
Indian automakers are going through shifts across the segments. Amid this, wheel segments have also seen some changes like shift towards electric vehicles, alloy wheels, safety features and others. Tarun Monga, Co-founder & Director, Plati Wheels India talks about recent trends in wheel technology in India.
What are some recent trends in the Indian market?
Aluminium wheels have grown over last five years. The current penetration of aluminium wheels for passenger cars in India is around 25-30 per cent and we expect it to go up to 45-50 per cent over the next few years. Given this scenario, we feel it is important for us to expand our aluminium wheel presence as well as add more capabilities to cater to the automotive wheel demand in India.
Aluminium wheels are expected to attain the same level of popularity witnessed globally in India by 2022. We believe aluminium wheels will witness further development, as they offer different style options. Although they are expensive than steel wheels, we’re certain there will be a market for aluminium wheels.
Customers who prefer frequent styling changes will find aluminium wheels a better option. For instance, if you wish to change the aluminium wheels in your car, it is five to six times cost-effective than steel wheels because the tooling to make steel wheels is very expensive.
When we talk of autonomous vehicles, we might have completely new type of wheels, maybe even cheaper. Surely there will be more changes in the kinds of wheels we will have over the next 10 years.
It’s a debate that has been raging for more than 10 years now. Steel wheels will stay probably for shared mobility as that segment of vehicle users may not upgrade to a shiny aluminium wheel. Aluminium wheels will always remain expensive than steel wheels. The raw material and processing for both types of wheels are different. The raw material for aluminium wheel is far more expensive than a steel wheel.
Steels wheels have stamping and presses, while aluminium wheels is all about casting – low pressure die casting – it is a bit like baking cookies and is time consuming – you need to brush, heat, machine and paint it.
With regards to future trends, I do believe that penetration of aluminium wheel will go up but it is important to understand that steel wheels are not going away. There will always be a market for steel wheels.
How has the wheel manufacturing process evolved over the last two decades or so?
Cars are driven much faster than 30-40 years back. Safety is a critical element in car wheel manufacturing as is the case for other automotive components and it is important that our processes are highly automated. At all times, we want to ensure a safe product. When component also offers safety to the product, precision is ensured to its maximun. In order to ensure that you need advanced technology.
Which new materials will be seen in future apart from steel and aluminium?
As of now, no one will be experimenting on wheels due to slowdown. But materials like carbon fibre which are known for its durability features and strength are not cost-effective. If the vehicle changes then maybe other materials will come into play. Electric vehicles have started to see closed rims which also offer some aerodynamic benefits to increase efficiency. Further these wheels also add on to the aesthetics to the wheel’s look and feel. New EVs will see LED lights which have also been tried in conventional vehicles as additional accessory.
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