With less than four years to go for BS VI emission standards in India, the Indian automotive industry is gearing up to meet the challenge. Earlier today, Ansys, global provider of simulation solutions in multiphysics, with media partner Autocar Professional, organised a thought-provoking and intensely debated panel discussion on the road to readiness for BS-VI by 2020 in Pune.
The panel discussion, which was attended by over 300 participants from the industry and academia, saw inputs from representatives across government-backed research and homologation body to a Tier 1 supplier and a large diesel engine manufacturer. The panel discussion was moderated by Autocar Professional’s associate editor Sumantra B Barooah.
The panel of industry experts comprised Rashmi Urdhwareshe, director, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI); Anuradda Ganesh, Anuradda Ganesh, director (Product Engineering), Cummins Technologies India; Ravi Damodaran, president, technology & strategy, Varroc Global, and Rafiq Somani, country manager, Ansys India.
The experts jointly agreed that the timeline to 2020 in lieu of the preparation for the BS-VI emission norms would witness a record level of collaboration among industry players across various functional domains. While the automotive industry undoubtedly faces stiff challenges to adhere to the mandatory norms in terms of accommodating product development, validation and testing cycles within the limited timeframe, the challenge to do so also opens up a level playing field for the stakeholders to be at par with their global counterparts. This, as the panelists argued, presents a large-scale export opportunity aligned with the central government’s Make-in-India initiative.
According to ARAI’s Rashmi Urdhwareshe, the challenge to streamline passenger cars to BS-VI norms is greater than that for two- and three-wheelers. “However, the small engines of the two- and three-wheelers are cost sensitive and therefore difficult to work upon keeping the costs as static parameter,” said Mrs Urdhwareshe.
“We should continue to explore new technologies while readying up for the stringent emission norms. The government has already assured that the right fuel will be available in India for vehicle testing cycles before 2020 even if it has to import the same. There is no looking back as the industry today does not have a choice and has to prepare for the incoming legislations,” she added.
OEMs not the sole innovators, supplier chain vital too
It is often debated that adherence to BS-VI norms will exponentially push up diesel engine costs, which might also mar the development and evolution of small diesel engines in future. Although the industry continues to seek more clarity on the potential end-of-road for small diesel engines, it is also looking forward to some value, cost-effective innovative solutions to address the same.
Talking in this context, Mrs Anuradda Ganesh of Cummins Technologies India remarked that “it surely would not be the end of the road for small diesel engines. We look forward to some innovative ideas, which must not be a jugaad but a more reliable and long-term solution. We need to evaluate what is available in terms of resources, talent and what can be made available in terms of final products. OEMs are not the only innovators now, the supplier value chain becomes equally important.”
Cummins India is setting up a global technical centre in Pune, which will have over 2,500 qualified engineers working on several technology development and innovation projects. “At Cummins Technical Centre, we are poised to take off in the direction of innovation and university collaboration,” added Mrs Ganesh. The Cummins Technical Centre in Pune is its largest outside of the USA.
Providing a policy and funding-centric outlook of the industry-government environment in India, Ravi Damodaran of Varroc Global suggested that the given timeframe (up to 2020) only allows adoption of available BS-VI emission technologies from mature markets and tailoring them to suit Indian conditions.
“However, the work on the front of disrupting technologies must continue in the R&D centres. The stakeholders should select the right projects that have long-term prospects for the industry and fund them. Innovative funding for the industry is going to be a key aspect,” he added.
Responding to that, Mrs Urdhwareshe mentioned that government funding looks at the development competencies in solutions for the entire automotive industry while selecting future technology projects for funding.
Reiterating Mrs Ganesh’s thoughts, Rafiq Somani of Ansys India emphasised the need for collaboration among industry players. He underlined the importance of digital simulation, which results into shrinking timelines of the development cycles along with reinstating the approach of first-time-right product prototyping. “We want to provide the industry with an environment where they can do digital prototyping to overlook the performance of their products under several circumstances to get it right the first time. The time-to-market parameter becomes very important going forward,” said Somani.
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP)
Talking in the context of NEMMP, Mrs Urdhwareshe said, “We haven’t reached anywhere close to the prediction that we made while the NEMMP was released. This is because of the lack of commitment on the part of the entire ecosystem. Although there are no enforcement issues in case of the electric vehicles, we require a collective will to move ahead by the entire automotive industry. Specific segments such as small vehicles or taxi segments are likely to emerge as the first takers of solutions under the electric vehicle program. Secondly, the absence of a network of charging stations for battery-run vehicles is another factor that needs to be addressed.”