Nirmal Kumar Minda, president, Automotive Component Manufacturing Association Of India (ACMA), and chairman of the Rs 5,600 crore UNO Minda Group, speaks to Autocar Professional’s Sumantra B Barooah on his three key priorities, the plan to set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE), expectations from the government and how the component industry can be grown further.
What will be your top three priorities as ACMA president?
First of all, we will try to integrate more with SIAM and the government on the e-mobility plans. The government has announced its aggressive plans to push towards e-mobility. Coordination between the three government departments – Energy, Road Transport and Heavy Industries – and SIAM and ACMA will be needed to make a clear roadmap. What do we need to do? What are the responsibilities of the government? What are the funds required at the government level? What is the subsidy that the government will give? What is the realistic roadmap?
As SIAM is our customer we will have to follow it. We cannot create capacity, but what we can do is proactive action for capacity creation. We cannot invest unless and until customers tell us, so maybe a few customers who are proactive.
This is going to be my first challenge, to integrate more on this kind of issue so that there are no loopholes and no rumours. It is difficult to work with rumours – when everybody is on the same plane, everybody knows what their responsibilities are and what they need to do to perform.
My second priority is the Auto Expo, where we can demonstrate all our capabilities, we can bring international players to demonstrate their vehicles or components to target e-mobility. We need to work hard for that and are visiting the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month (September 14). We will discuss with them what needs to be done with the different associations.
The third focus area would be to look at ACMA's by-laws and regulations to make it more vibrant, more involved into the component industry and do something different. Things like recognising and growing the young leaders of the future. I would also look to bring diversity in this segment of industry; we need to bring women in our executive, enable more women empowerment.
Would the end objective be a more agile or more dynamic ACMA?
We should play some role but we are not really clear about what kind of investment the auto industry is looking for. We are already working on the BS-IV to BS-VI transition, investment is already taking place, but at the same time the government is talking about electric vehicles (EVs). Where is the money, where are the funds? At the same time, the challenge of self-reliance.
So, should ACMA have more influence in policy drafting?
A more realistic approach in policy drafting (is required). What exactly is possible, sometimes we delay the regulation and then we go for the import route, which is no good. If we plan at the start, we can localise.
You’ve bypassed one step of importing and then localising, will you straightaway localise?
Yes, if we go onto whether we need to make a clear-cut plan about the regulation and implementation.
The Indian component industry has come a long way. Of the larger suppliers, the ones which come to mind are Bharat Forge, Motherson Sumi, UNO Minda, Varroc Group but as Mr RC Bhargava said, do you agree there is still room for Indian suppliers to achieve global level in terms of product quality and deliverables?
There are issues, concerns of the sustainable quality, many times because of many constraints in our skillset as Vishvajit Sahay, joint secretary, government of India, said. Different skillsets are required for different jobs.
Skillsets are going to change, there are challenges of the sustainable quality. But the growth should happen in the business from the small – medium – large sector which is already taking shape. I think we all need to work hard and be more focused.
You being a Tier 1 supplier, does the capabilities or skillsets in terms of quality level concern you? What are the average quality levels in terms of capabilities or skillset of the Tier 2, Tier 3 suppliers?
They are far behind. Maruti, Honda, and almost all the OEMs are working towards this initiative on how to improve quality levels. Thus, this year ACMA's priority is to set up a Centre of Excllence, where we will mainly train people representing Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers.
When do you plan to bring up the ACMA Centre of Excellence?
There are some activities that have already started on this score. I have worked a little bit on that but need to make a clear roadmap with a definite target and a definite investment that will be required. In my tenure as ACMA president, I will put the sign, the seal and lay the foundation stone.
Is the evil of spurious parts harming the auto component industry in a big way?
As an association we cannot do much about this. We are training the original component manufacturers on how to deal with it from the legal administrative manner; also, technologies now enable people to recognise spurious parts.
However, this is still a tough task for mechanics and people with limited knowledge; they as well as users need to be trained. The government, particularly, has to support us to take this kind of initiative, and put in more strict enforcement. Without the government's assistance, it is not possible to stop anything in this country.
In terms of growth, how much do you expect the industry to grow this year?
I am always bullish about growth. I expect the component industry to record a minimum of 10 percent growth.
Why should we be behind China? At present, they are producing 24 million (passenger vehicles); look how they have groown in the past 20 years. We are at 3.5 million. Twenty years ago, we were almost the same. To drive e-mobility, China has improved its infrastructure.