India Japan Lighting (IJL), the 50:50 joint venture between Lucas-TVS and Koito Manufacturing Company of Japan, plans to manufacture headlamp levellers at its Chennai plant soon. It is also entering into supplies for the two-wheeler segment, starting with India Yamaha Motor (IYM), and making a foray into the aftermarket.
According to P Sundaresan, president, IJL, the company has been dependent on imports from Koito for its customers’ requirements of headlamp levelers. With a consistent increase in demand, IJL is now setting up an assembly line at its plant in Thirumazhisai, near Chennai, to make headlamp levellers. Commercial production will commence from January 2011, he said. Recently the company has added an aluminising plant to meet soaring demand.
Since inception in 1996, IJL has catered to the passenger car segment. Having recognised the demand for high technology in lighting requirements for two-wheelers, the company has begun lighting systems for this segment too. To begin with, it will supply Light Emitting Diode (LED) tail-lamps to IYM, followed by supplies to Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India. IJL now also has the capability to make LED tail-lamps for four-wheelers and will supply them to OEMs based on their specific requirements, says Sundaresan.
The company has recently developed Poly Ellipsoidal System (PES) technology, in which a few customers have evinced interest. Projector lamps, as they are generally called, offer several advantages to OEMs in terms of space saving, lesser power consumption for better luminance and improved aesthetics besides achieving better road pattern. “We are creating a provision for PES technology in the existing lighting systems for a few customers, so that we can offer it to them immediately,” he says.
Speaking about the aftermarket foray in a couple of months, P M Ganesh, GM (marketing), says IJL will introduce ‘standard lamps’ under the IJL brand for commercial vehicles. These lamps can be used for different vehicle applications.
Some OEMs have shown interest in sourcing these lamps. The company plans to expand its operations to offer products for other vehicle segments including two-wheeler lighting systems in the aftermarket. “Our aim is to make a product differentiation over the existing products available in the replacement market,” says Ganesh.
India focus at Koito
The sudden spurt in demand from OEMs, although it provides increased business, has resulted in a new set of challenges, compelling component vendors to address things differently. Sundaresan says, “Koito is creating a separate wing at its design centre in Japan to step up coordination between IJL and Koito to speed up the development process at Indian OEMs, especially non-Japanese vehicle makers. This will help reduce new product development time by up to 25 percent.” To enhance this initiative, IJL is to expand its local design team, which currently comprises of 20 engineers, by 50 percent in the near future. Since OEMs demand local engineering capabilities, gearing up the design centre makes sense, he adds.
The new product development cycle that was about 18 months till five years ago has been brought down to close to 10 months now, adds Sundaresan, and ‘concurrent design’ has helped IJL contain the design time by about 50 percent. Moreover, it has localised mould making by providing Koito’s technical support to local vendors. Also, Koito has assessed IJL’s testing facilities, its associate companies including Lucas-TVS and other testing agencies, helping IJL carry out a large portion of tests in India itself. “We are confident of getting lamps tested up to at least 80 percent in India from next year. Earlier, it was the other way around,” he reveals.
Most of the headlamps that IJL manufactures have provision for daylight running, which is mandatory in most of Europe. IJL’s current clientele includes Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors (passenger cars) and Toyota Kirloskar Motor and will soon commence supplies to Ashok Leyland and its joint venture company with Nissan, Daimler India, Honda Siel, General Motors India and Tata Motors (commercial vehicles).
In 2009-10, IJL recorded a turnover of Rs 216 crore; this year though it is not expecting any growth as it is focusing heavily on new product development. From the next fiscal, it hopes to notch a 15 percent increase. In addition to the Chennai facility, IJL has another manufacturing plant in Bawal on the Delhi- Jaipur highway. Together, the plants make about 10,000 lamp sets every day.