Sagar Hemade, Managing Director, Tenneco Automotive India Pvt Ltd; Naresh Phansalkar, Director Engineering, Clean Air Systems; and G Manoharan, Plant Head – Pune & Sanand elaborate on the company’s activities in India and its future plans.
Could you provide us an overview of what Tenneco is doing on global footprint as well as the Indian footprint?
Globally, Tenneco has two business lines, one is Clean Air and the other is Ride Performance. The company has been growing extremely well globally and has been in a position to outperform the light vehicle market growth. Over the last few years, Tenneco has witnessed good growth, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) including India which is driving growth. With regard to Clean Air, due to regulations in markets like China and India and also taking into consideration an increase in Light Vehicle (LV) production globally, we see an immense opportunity for growth on the Clean Air side given the strong global expertise we have in Clean Air Technologies. On Ride Performance, we are by far the number one volume producer in the world. Speaking about our footprint, we are present in almost all matured markets, wherever there is a potential for customers. We have a big presence in fast-growing markets like China and India. We continue to invest in these regions, both in terms of technology and manufacturing footprint. In India, we have six manufacturing facilities catering to both the product lines, of which, three facilities are located at Hosur, Bawal and Puducherry for Ride Performance. For the Clean Air, we have plants in Chakan, Chennai and a JIT plant at Sanand which went into production last year. We have more than 3,000 people working for us and we supply to all major OEMs in India. We are working towards garnering more customer relationships and are confident that we will commence business with them shortly.
Why didn’t you enter the two-wheeler segment for your smooth products?
Our primary focus is on the four-wheeler segment which is our global strength in terms of products and manufacturing. So, we do not have plans to pursue the two-wheeler segment.
How do you visualise Indian auto component market for your range of products in terms of domestic and export consumptions?
If you look at our products from Clean Air side, these products are bulky and volumetric in terms of packaging. What customers prefer is a supplier of these products next door and hence, most of our Clean Air plants are very close to our customers so as to avoid logistics issues. While we don’t see much export potential on the Clean Air side, some customers are exporting cars as CKD where some of our components are becoming a part of their kit and they are being exported. There are opportunities for exporting products like catalytic converters.
Ride Performance logistics are less costly than exhaust and here we see export opportunities to other countries. We are exporting shock absorbers for speciality vehicles to the US and passenger vehicle shocks to other regions. We see a good potential for exports to other regions in Asia.
How do you visualise the growth prospects for automobiles in India?
For the domestic market, we have consistently outpaced the growth in passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles. We see the market growing from 9 to 12 per cent in the coming years and are very well positioned to leverage that growth.
What is your take on the electro mobility, a threat to your Clean Air system business?
Industry analysts predict that the percentage of electric vehicles (EVs) in the total passenger vehicle market will not be significant, atleast in the timeframe to 2025. In the meantime, we continue to innovate. The regulatory drivers behind clean air include not only the air quality where clean exhaust of criteria pollutants including NOx, particulate matter and carbon monoxide are important, but also improving fuel economy, reducing fuel consumption and reducing the generation of greenhouse gas is a key imperative. We also need great acoustics to meet the increasingly stringent noise regulation. In India, we are focused on providing our customers with BS-VI-compliant systems and are already geared up with state-of-the-art, world-class manufacturing facilities and the knowledge and advanced manufacturing technology required to produce BS-VI-compliant systems.
Our strong global supplier base can also be leveraged to source components with the increased complexity and precision required for the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and Oxycat-DPF systems required for BS-VI.
In terms of Ride Performance, with the EV and autonomous driving, the suspension of these vehicles will be will need a step technology change. We see opportunities for our Monroe Intelligent Suspension advanced electronic technologies within autonomous vehicles.
Could you highlight the milestones of Tenneco in India, in which you take pride as the Managing Director of the company?
It is probably during the 2008-2012 timeframe, when global customers like Renault and Ford ramped up production and Volkswagen entered the market. Our global presence helped build the relationships with these customers while we also continued to focus on our domestic customers. Tenneco continued to make significant strategic investments in new plants, in vertical integration and engineering facilities. Our global strategies helped us to service all of our customers with their advanced needs and propel our growth. We have a very strong team, good engineering and manufacturing capability and growing demand for Tenneco’s technology– all of which will help take us to the next level with our valued customers.
What are your thoughts on the new Engineering Center to be inaugurated shortly?
On the Ride Performance side, we have a strong team for last few years. We are adding new talents to our team, more engineering capacity for testing and validation. The main focus for this team is to bring innovation in the product, help the company achieve cost leadership and also bring new technologies to the Indian market at the right cost.
On Clean Air, our team is focused on how we can be indigenous, optimise cost and make our products developed in the US and Europe relevant for Indian conditions, thereby bringing more value to our customers. While doing so, our Indian team is helping the global team to do the engineering work from India. We have a software centre in Bengaluru which is supporting global programs for Tenneco.
The basic objective of our development centre is to develop India-specific solutions that will meet and exceed the Indian customer requirements of performance, durability and cost. For example, we are currently supplying a BS-IV-complaint system to a heavy-duty manufacturer. By reducing the weight of that system, we can produce it at lower cost than the equivalent part in Europe.
Do you also have in-house design capabilities to develop your own products and offer them to your OEMs?
On the Ride Performance side, we are supplying to a global A-segment car, for which the design home room is in India. Our team was engaged right from the pre-engineering phase and it is a very good example of collaboration between our team and the customer. This is a benchmark for Tenneco in terms of weight and cost. Our team has been able to design and innovate on BS-IV and come up with a different outcome which is unique, gives reduction in weight, good performance and cost advantage. Though our work is done here, there is a good system in place where our engineers work closely with Tenneco’s global engineering centres in the US and Europe to follow global standards for performance. Sometimes, design validations are done twice, once in India and once in the US and/or Europe to ensure that designs are durable.
What is your vision 2020 for Tenneco?
We expect to continue to improve our market share in India and grow with our present customers and add new customers. With the changing customer expectations, we will work with our customers to introduce the new product technologies, provide advanced manufacturing and logistics solutions to become their preferred partner for new programs and helping us grow our business.
“We are here for customers. We will provide all the technologies required by our customers at the right time, helping them to be successful in the market.”
– Sagar Hemade,
Managing Director, Tenneco Automotive India Pvt Ltd
“We are ready for BS-VI technology. We have the competence, the capability and we are sure ready for BS-VI.”
– Naresh Phansalkar,
Director Engineering, Clean Air Systems, Tenneco Automotive India Pvt Ltd
Plans are afloat to create additional 1,700 cu m to reach a total of 4,000 cu m free space to establish the production lines for BS-VI compliant Clean Air systems.
– G Manoharan,
Plant Head – Chakan and Sanand, Tenneco Automotive India Pvt Ltd.
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