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Miles to go, ground to cover

Miles to go, ground to cover

With the deadlines inching closer, demand for certain technologies are gaining prominence, which is forcing the auto industry to be ready and be upto scale. Be it BS VI norms, electrification or technology disruptions in terms of IoT, much like a universe, the industry is expanding from all sides.

The Indian automotive industry has been through some major upheavals, but none like the recent couple of years. From financial to technological disruptions, the industry, which comprises of a healthy blend of OEMs and tiered suppliers, has been either scrambling or sailing smoothly through the tides of change. Certain trends prove to be beneficial to some manufacturers while some others will be washed away with the tides of change.

It would be incorrect to say that financial or policy disruptions are mutually exclusive from technological disruptions. Over the past two years, we have seen drastic changes in the climate and air quality that even the apex court couldn’t ignore it. Famously having said that the health of people is more important than the interests of automotive businessmen, the Supreme Court shut down the production and sale of BS III vehicles in 2017. BS IV vehicles have since been plying the roads while the Government has leap-frogged an entire stage. Now OEMs and component manufacturers are in wait for the ever tightening deadline of BS VI norms.

Not only does BS VI transition require an overhauling in engine science but also in terms of fuel grades. After all, the new norms state that sulphur and NOx content should decrease by 80 per cent and 70 per cent (diesel) respectively.

Changing Norms

The recently held Auto Expo Show, featured several known tier-1 suppliers that showcased their BS VI compliant offerings. Cummins had an entire on-highway exhibit dedicated to the Bharat Stage norms while propulsion systems provider BorgWarner showcased its many solutions for fuel-efficient engines.

Powertrain manufacturers and combustion and propulsion solution providers are enthusiastic about this process as it gives them a chance to innovate technologically and be on the profiting side.

“Governments around the world are pursuing more stringent norms on emissions and fuel economy to continually improve air quality in urban areas. India too has announced the implementation of BS VI norms by 2020 and soon will adopt (corporate average fuel efficiency) CAFÉ norm, which require cars to be 30 per cent or more fuel efficient from 2022 and 10 per cent or more between 2017 and 2021. It is our belief that the efficiency of ICE can continue to be enhanced
using new technology solutions,” opines Biswa Mandal, Head of Technology, Schaeffler India.

However, despite their optimism, powertrain solution providers see the obvious issues with drawing in deadlines. One might think that the industry seems to be ready with the requisite technology and can eventually make a smooth transition. However, the one thing that OEMs themselves need to factor in, is the cost. The technology being available is not really an issue, but it needs to be accessible. The cost of vehicles is estimated to rise by 200,000 which will not bode well for the economy class vehicles.

“Currently, the greatest challenge for India’s automotive industry is the rollout of BS VI emissions standards. Regarding the new BS VI emissions standards, cost emerging will play a major key role. BorgWarner has developed a local manufacturing presence and a supplier base in order to provide components for EGR as cost-effective as possible – since the upgrading of existing systems to fulfil these standards comes at a price,” says Christopher Lanker, Vice President and General Manager, Asia BorgWarner Emissions and Thermal Systems.

While Lanker has taken on the responsibility of trying to reduce cost, he does believe that the problem with ineffective fuel burning in BS VI engines is the OEMs outlook. “BorgWarner,” he says, “provides solutions based on the customer input and engine data. There are many factors in the engine map which can be responsible for the improper or insufficient fuel burning.”
On the other hand, Mandal takes an opposing stance where Schaeffler addresses engine performance issues through its technological developments. “The process to reduce sulphur in diesel can negatively impact the energy content of the fuel, and correspondingly bring down fuel efficiency, if only by a small margin. There are also concerns over the lower lubricity and readiness to burn (expressed in cetane number) of ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD). Then again, ULSDs come with additives technologies that address these issues.”

Mandal also goes on to say that thermal efficiency losses need to be mitigated in order to improve the BS VI engine’s performance. “Compensating thermal efficiency losses enhances the efficiency with higher reliability. Products like hydraulically or electrically actuated variable cam timing system or UNI-AIR system help with that.”

“Powertrains are becoming smaller with 1.6 litres being replaced by 1.4 and then 1.2 etc. Even though engines are smaller, the torque and power needs of the consumers are still very high. How to balance this is the conflicting demand on OEMs. They have to strike a fine balance among performance, efficiency and emissions,” he adds.

Battery of tests

The changes in emission policies have spurred R&D in the internal combustion engine department. But what happens when, simultaneously, there are initiatives and schemes taken to eliminate ICE from the equation completely?

As EVs slowly becomes a tangible reality, the government has reached a point where it has set a deadline for the complete usage of electric vehicle. Initiatives under schemes like Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric (and Hybrid) Vehicles (FAME) are now nearing the end of its first phase and are set for phase two.

With electrification taking such a rapid turn, and the possibility of EV deadlines tightening just like BS VI, one must wonder if OEMs and powertrain solution providers should spend their time with BS VI engines or with coming up with electrification solutions.

Taking a holistic approach, Lanker says, “The discussion about future powertrains has been highly polarised. The future won’t rely on one propulsion concept only. There will be a mix of combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles. That’s why we focus on further developing technologies that increase efficiency and lower emissions for all propulsion concepts. In doing so, we follow our vision of a clean, energy-efficient world, while always being able to offer our diverse customers the solution that fits their needs.”

“For years already, we identify market needs and address them through organic growth and acquisitions. Doesn’t matter if the future will be hybrid or electric, at the end of the day, every vehicle requires a propulsion system to get from point A to point B,” he adds.

For Mandal, the transition seems to be in a phased manner. His view is that by 2030, within India, 55 per cent of vehicles will be ICE dominated while 24 per cent will be HEV and remaining 21 per cent will be EV operated. The current CO2 emission stands at 130g/km and with BS VI enforcement this will gradually come down to 113g/Km by 2022. Many of the components produced today may not be required in a full electric vehicle. Anticipating this, companies like Schaeffler, have been working on evolving needs for e-mobility applicable to the automotive industry.

This kind of move has had an effect globally, as companies based in other countries, that supply to the Indian market are also developing solutions for electrified powertrains. Cynthia Norris, Strategic Planning and Marketing Manager, AxleTech says about the benefits of EVs, “Electrification for heavy-duty vehicles is a trend we are staying ahead of and we are focused on continuing to deliver the best technology for our customers. As battery prices continue to decline, the economics for electric vehicles, especially those with shorter duty cycles, are justified as total cost of ownership now compares favorably. Fully-electric vehicles provide much less components, which simplifies and reduces maintenance.They also provide many benefits over diesel – they are quieter, thereby improving operator environment; provide less complexity as they require fewer parts, which makes maintenance intervals less frequent; and cost of ownership is favorable.”

Customer demands are also contingent on the policies enacted by the government which in turn drive a particular trend. Working with Tesla on its concepts for EV, Dassault Systèmes’ Electromobility Accelerator portfolio provides a wide range of testing, modelling and structure analysis for the production of safe and reliable EVs.

“The EMA is a toolkit which will help OEMs to crunch time in coming out with new concepts at a very early stage so that the cost aspect of the new EV or charging infrastructure or battery pack is lesser. Along with that, it gives them to give the ability to see what is going on in the research world as well. Because this is not a done and dusted technology. While OEMs may think that they are coming up with a new technology, within three to six months the market is changing,” says Shree Harsha, Business Consulting Director, Dassault Systèmes.
With solutions like these, the production of EVs can be optimised and manufacturers can roll them out based.

The Journey Ahead

There are constant changes taking place in the internal workings of a vehicle but a certain trend that has not been forced due to policies or government initiatives has been growing organically. Shared mobility and its many different models have been mushrooming in urban spaces and smaller towns.

This save-all concept can combat the ever-present problem of congestion in cities, pollution, and conservation of fossil-fuel. Shared mobility models can be for passenger carrying vehicles and for cargo carrying vehicles. In passenger vehicles the apparent aim of shared mobility is to reduce the car ownership rate which can bring down congestion in urban areas, while also lessening the burden that comes with owning a vehicle.

In terms of cargo, shared mobility and the connectivity that comes with it benefits fleet managers the most. One of the aspects of this is ADAS, which is one of the lower echelons of the autonomous driving phases. Shared mobility is “shared” in the sense of connectivity and IoT platforms as well. Leveraging these solutions, fleet managers can optimise product delivery, supply chain logistics and lower vehicle down time as well. However, when it comes to personal vehicles, Teja Guneda, Vice President-Engineering, Netradyne says, “One of the trends currently evolving is that insurance companies can install a device, with consent of course, which can capture driving behaviour. At the end of year month it can generate a score card for the driver. It can record accidents rates, driving skill and other parameters which insurance companies can access. This benefits not only personal vehicle owners but also fleet owners. The insurance for CVs is very high. This kind of mechanism can conclude, using the device, that the driver is safe which can become a standard with car insurance companies. This can allow them to offer better benefits and premiums.” With these systems in place they can guarantee safe driving incentives for both fleet and personal vehicle drivers.

Christopher Lanker, CEO, BorgWarner speaks about how OEMs can efficiently increase the performance of their powertrain in keeping with the new norms.

In order to optimise valve timing and engine breathing a variable cam timing technology modifies camshaft phase relative to the engine crankshaft. The controlled airflow enables improved power density, fuel economy and allows for reduced emissions. Turbochargers deliver powerful boost and facilitate rapid acceleration while significantly reducing emissions and fuel consumption. Another method of lowering emissions is by managing exhaust gas through EGR. Using thermal system management can result in lower engine temperatures as well as efficient fuel usage. Additionally, hybridization is a way to further reduce emissions. As we offer technologies for all kinds of hybrid architectures we are very well-positioned to support our customers in mastering the challenges ahead.

We aim to be a propulsion leader, regardless of the direction or speed with which the industry is going to implement our various technologies. Our technologies are globally used and support similar regulations in all regions including Euro VI. In fact, Europe’s market is already compliant with Euro VI. Electrification will enable multiple new features to be added into future vehicles, which again will increase the overall power consumption of vehicles and therefore impact their range and CO2 emissions. This is a challenge, for which suppliers will have to provide proper solutions. The efficiency of propulsion systems can be seen as a key enabler to increase vehicle’s driving range and overcome more stringent emissions regulations such as BS VI.

As a supplier of propulsion solutions for now and future vehicles, no matter which propulsion concept they rely on, we are of the opinion that all these features rely on highly efficient powertrains to provide them with the power needed to operate.

As battery prices continue to decline, the economics for electric vehicles, especially those with shorter duty cycles, are justified as total cost of ownership now compares favorably”

– Cynthia Norris,
Marketing Manger, AxleTech

Biswa Mandal, Head of Technology, Schaeffler India gives us solutions on how to optimise engine performance in the face of BS VI difficulties.

It is our belief that the efficiency of ICE can continue to be enhanced using new technology solutions.

From an engine point of view, we are into combustion technology and improving the combustion efficiency in the engine. Today, components like the hydraulic lasher are being used by many of the OEMs in their powertrains. When BS VI comes through, many of the powertrains that might have solutions like tappets might want change components or graduate to implement cam phasers to improve combustion efficiency in the engine.These are some of the solutions to improve combustion efficiency within the engine.

India has been adopting and enforcing the emission standards in a phased manner. The implementation of advanced norms is a critical step as India is the world’s third largest emitter after China and the US.

The emission leap requires a significant technological jump, especially in diesel filter technology and in optimisation of selective catalytic reduction technology. Meanwhile, it is an opportunity for Indian companies to create an ecosystem for advance emission technology. Oil marketing companies have an equally important role to play in the big shift as they need to ensure the availability of the requisite grade of fuel well ahead of the deadline. We think the industry will achieve the target within the stipulated time. The launch of P0 hybrid technology by major auto manufacturers is a testimony to the fact that the transition is in force that India is well on track to achieving the BS VI target.

Electric mobility as a whole – including fully electric driving as well as hybrid solutions – will be defining mobility of the future. Electrified powertrain architectures are shaping the future of automotive progress, confronting the automotive industry with major challenges.

Beyond electric mobility, there are equally important dimensions such as generation and transmission of power which is needed for electric mobility. Experts refer to “well-to-wheel” when taking the entire energy chain into account. It is a method that makes it look at total amount of CO2 emissions produced in the entire chain of locomotion – from the production and storage of energy through to its conversion into kinetic energy. Sustainable mobility can only be achieved if the primary energy for locomotion comes from renewable sources such as wind power, solar power, hydropower or geothermal energy.

“While OEMs may think that they are coming up with a new technology, within three to six months the market is changing.”

– Shree Harsha,
Business Consulting Director, Dassault Systèmes

While we are a long way from having autonomous vehicles on the road, Teja Guneda, VP-Engineering, Netradyne, tells us that with ADAS we are not so far away.

You need to have a device or a platform that is capable of identifying certain events. If the driver were eliminated from the vehicle and only Driveri were installed with its sensors and cameras, it should have the intelligence to detect what is happening around it and how the vehicle should behave according to the traffic, pedestrians or cars. The Driveri ADAS platform has the capability to coach or help the driver, but not proactively. The system doesn’t give any active feedback as the fleet managers will consume the data and they can take the requisite action. This is stage one. The next stage is giving the active feedback to the driver. However this is optional as many people consider active feedback to be distracting. And this also makes sense in a country like India as most of the accidents happen due to driver distraction. Features like collision warning, lane departure alert and basic driver monitoring need to be present in an ADAS system. The device can measure, scan and create an alert in case of collisions. While lane departure is not really considered an issue in India, several accidents can take place due to driver irresponsibility, which is why an alert is needed in this case. Driver monitoring happens taking into account the facial behaviour, like yawning or sore eyes due to continuous driving. With ADAS systems you can save fuel and even have speed alert systems. Such critical features can also benefit the government. In terms of fleet managers it can reduce the vehicles downtime and increase logistical efficiency.

What we are doing is at Level 1 and 2 of automation. The system detects events and gives feedback to the driver. However, higher levels of automation, feedback needs to be given to vehicles (Level 3) and at it should be able to take action without any human intervention (level 4). When vehicles can function completely without humans involved, that would be full autonomy or Level 5.

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