Millennium Post

Auto sector in acceleration mode

Auto sector  in acceleration mode
India is one of the largest automotive markets in the world and, despite the global economic slowdown, still continues to remain the same. With its passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturing industry being the sixth largest in the world — where annual production of more than 3.9 million units was reported in 2011, India recently also became the sixth largest passenger vehicle producer in the world while overtaking auto makers like Belgium, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, France and Brazil.

Throughout the course of 2011 and 2012, the industry grew 16-18 per cent, selling around three million units. While 2009 had seen India emerging as Asia's fourth largest exporter of passenger cars— behind Japan, South Korea and Thailand— 2010 witnessed India beating Thailand to become Asia's third largest exporter of passenger cars. 2010 also showed India having 40 million passenger vehicles with over 3.7 million automotive vehicles being produced locally (an increase of 33.9 per cent), making it the second (after China) fastest growing automobile market in the world that year.

However, the passenger car sector suffered massive jerk in 2013 with sales growth contracting to decade low of 9.6 per cent. Now with stable government in power, sentiments have turned positive and first four months of FY15 have seen growth picking up.  Car sales in August showed a impressive growth  of 15.16 per cent.

With these facts and figures displaying a rising graph in the Indian automobile market, the present trend is witnessing the auto industry focusing on bringing in newer, modified, state-of-the-art, hi-tech, attractively-redesigned vehicles. Keeping this in mind, SKODA India recently launched its latest offering – the extensively redesigned and ‘built tough for the rough Indian roads’ +YETI+ SUV – at Rs 18.63 lakh.

‘For the first time, the YETI will feature cruise control and the KESSY system. I have tried the YETI in the hills of India and its performance including stability in off-road conditions is overwhelming—a car for true automotive enthusiasts and driving aficionados,’ said SKODA Auto India CMD Sudhir Rao. ‘Besides clever use of space and technology, the refreshed models in our line-up reflect the new phase of SKODA India including highlighting low fuel consumption and emissions, safety without compromise (Yeti was awarded five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test in 2009 for its exemplary safety features) with ‘hill-descent control,’ ‘smart all-wheel-drive’ for off-road driving, besides six airbags, five three-point safety belts and five head restraints for passive safety.’

Besides stronger-shaped ‘wheel-houses,’ the YETI’s ‘state-of-the-art’ engine management uses engine braking action to enable safe and controlled downhill driving by keeping speed at a constant rate,’ he said while pointing out also the vehicle’s ‘all-wheel drive’ boasting excellent handling characteristics on slick surfaces due to its ‘fifth-generation Haldex clutch’—an electronically controlled multiplate coupling system with a controller that sets the torque for the rear axle and adjusts clutch plate contact pressure, while the EDL (electronic differential lock) provides driving stability on uneven road surfaces. In unavoidable accidents, airbags activation ensures partial cut to supply of fuel and power while unlocking all doors.

The Indian driving population is being also offered the ‘YETI’ in enchanting colours like Candy White, Black Magic, Mato Brown, Lava Blue, Brilliant silver, Corrida Red and Terracotta Orange with multiple combinations of silver, white or a black roof.

‘Yeti was the game-changer for us as a people’s car and we are presently targeting a luxury-yet-accessible-to-people audience in the upper middle class segment – which is the Indian population that is mostly owning their own businesses,’ said SKODA AUTO India Director (Sales, Service and Marketing) Pawel Szuflak while describing the new Yeti as a +Wild Yet Tamed’ masculine and brave car for worse road conditions and rough terrain.  

Adventure is now becoming the name of the game as big money, sports and adventure involving the auto industry begins to make its foray into India through bikers and their special bikes, cars and so on.  The auto industry is riding high in India as cars and motorcycles make their presence felt even more strongly in the country after making waves abroad in other continents both in figures and fame. One of them is the Austrian brand KTM which has tied up with India’s own Bajaj Auto Limited (Pune) to produce supersport motorcycles in India for the adventurous-spirited and stunt-crazy population.

Bajaj Auto —India’s largest autorickshaw manufacturer — announced the launch of their KTM series of supersport motorcycles, the RC 390 and RC 200, in association with KTM representatives in India recently. KTM is the leader in experience and knowledge of the world of motosport – Moto3 which is the 250cc segment of MotoGP racing — and has won the championship in 2012 with top two out of three positions, besides following it up with a victory in the 2013 season by securing all the top positions. The KTM RC supersport bikes have been launched at a price of Rs 2.05 lakh (RC 390) and Rs 1.60 lakh (RC 200) at ex-showroom Delhi, besides Mumbai, through 140 exclusive KTM dealerships in India.  Bajaj Probiking Senior Vice President Amit Nandi said KTM has grown by 120 per cent in the current financial year and the KTM 200 is the first motorcycle to bring full-blooded Supersport design and looks in the 200cc motorcycle segment with 25 Ps of power, twin projector headlamps front and unique body integrated pillion seat giving it the superbike style, besides Moto3 inspired equipment like forged aluminium clamps, upside down forks and a steel trellis frame making every bike ride a racing experience.

‘KTM has more than 240 World Championship titles ranging from dirt to tarmac — including the toughest and legendary DAKAR Rally — and which include 13 consecutive wins since 2000,’ said Stefan Pierer, CEO, KTM Sportmotorcycles AG.

Highlighting the company’s global plans, he said KTM will produce 65,000 to 70,000 motorbikes (RC 200 and RC 390) for the world market. ‘Our endeavour is to introduce this luxury brand as a dream bike for Indian bikers dreaming of owning such two-wheelers. Biking is the key for us to enter the emerging markets in our global expansion and, by 2020, we hope to reach the production figures of 200,000 such motorcycles. This year, we are reaching production figures of 150,000 — of which 100,000 are being manufactured in Chakan (Pune) itself  as part of our goal in becoming the largest motorcycle producer globally. We are working on a multipurpose model and the new adventure 1050 is being prepared as a global type model that will also come to India.’

Bajaj Auto Limited Rajiv Bajaj MD, said KTM  as a world racing champion  holds about 1/3rd of the Indian market and two-thirds of the world market where supersport motorcycles are concerned. To a question about meeting the global demand, he said ‘Since we are manufacturing these bikes at the Bajaj Auto Plant in Pune, it’s just a matter of ramping up production.’

On whether Bajaj Auto Limited would leverage KTM to reach the global market, he said Bajaj is
indirectly – through KTM – present in markets like the USA, Canada, Japan, while KTM was venturing into Asia via Bajaj and had recently entered China while looking at other markets in this region including Philippines and Indonesia.

Highlighting the rise of motorbiking culture in India, Bajaj said the company’s Bajaj’s Pulsar and Avenger motorcycles presently have a CAGR of 20 per cent per year, compared to the rest of the Indian motorbiking industry which is growing at about 10 per cent per year. ‘The mid-size segment (which buys motorcycles of Rs one lakh and above) in the Indian population is growth-driven by the desire to upgrade to sporty and hard performance bikes. Motorbiking culture is catching up like wildfire in India including in places like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where we see groups of between five to 15 riders heading out for pleasure rides,’ he said while mentioning that Bajaj Auto organises tours and rides for motorcycle riders in all sorts of terrain.

Autodesk to rev up india’s design ecosystem
FICCI, AMD, DELL, HP, NVIDIA extended their support to the launch of the First Autodesk University in the Subcontinent — at an event in Mumbai recently — for supporting India’s design ecosystem, where an Automotive Innovation Forum highlighted  top names in global and Indian automotive industry discussing design innovation as a key driver to sustainable growth, irrespective of turbulence.

A ‘Wicked Problem Solving Workshop’ was held by Tom Wujec, Autodesk Fellow who played a critical role in development of Autodesk software. ‘Autodesk University is an international premium design event customised to address design needs such as auto industry, manufacturing etc and has come to India for the first time,’ Peter Larsson, Sr. Business Development Manager, MFG Industry Strategy & Marketing, Autodesk, said adding  ‘In India, the manufacturing sector – specially auto sector – has seen a slump in last three quarters and the need to address survival of this sector where industry players like OEMs, auto manufacturers, car makers, can fully optimise their resources, add value propositions using Autodesk technology and softwares like Fusion 360 and Inventor.

These firms can pre-empt design for better product matching customer expectations.’ Larsson also said that Autodesk is sharing its innovations in the face of challenges to produce aesthetic designs for cars, motorbikes and general transportation (such as buses, trucks etc) amidst growing industrial demand and pressure from globalisation.’Our biggest footprint is in the design process where we focus on factors like less fuel consumption, environment protection, use of plastic parts and so on.

Styling plays a vital role in the customers’ choice of cars and this is a key aspect of driving success for them,’ he said, adding that today nearly every automobile major is using Autodesk tools and solutions in designing their cars.
Dominick Rodrigues

Dominick Rodrigues

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