Witzenmann bags key Hyundai order
Witzenmann India has recently bagged orders to supply decouplers to the upcoming Hyundai small car, the HA. The size of the order is an estimated 1,44,000 units per year. The monetary value of this order wasn’t revealed but Witzenmann has confirmed that it will be the sole supplier of this component for the small car. All of these 1,44,000 decouplers will be supplied from Witzenmann’s plant in Chennai. The company has also revealed that it has confirmed supplies to Mahindra & Mahindra’s upcoming SUV (codenamed W201).
Speaking exclusively to Autocar Professional on the occasion of the dedication of Witzenmann India’s arc tube welding and hydroforming bellow press line to the Indian automotive industry from its plant in Chennai, Karthic Balasubramanium, manager marketing and sales, said that the new Hyundai Verna will also contain decouplers from Witzenmann India’s Chennai plant. Talking about the new facility, Karthic said that it has a unique feature in the Indian component manufacturing scene. “Every other manufacturer of bellows and decouplers gets stainless steel tubes and then makes the decouplers. We import the required steel in the form of steel strips and make everything from the tube to the final decoupler unit ourselves.”
In late 2007, Witzenmann began setting up the current facility in Chennai on a special request by Hyundai Motor India. On starting manufacturing and assembly in 2008, the Tier II supplier’s products found their way into the Hyundai i10 and later into the i20. The decouplers produced by Witzenmann are part of the exhaust unit package for the Hyundai cars. After bagging the Hyundai orders, the company got new business for supply to the Fiat Linea, Volkswagen Polo and Tata Aria.
At present, other targets on the Germany-based company’s radar are Maruti Suzuki and Ford India. Talks with Maruti Suzuki are in progress to potentially lap up an order for 12 to 14 lakh decouplers in a period of around five years. If these talks see fruition, Witzenmann is expected to expand its facility in order to accommodate more production. Currently, the facility that manufactures around 10 lakh decouplers per annum is around 14,500 square feet in size and has another 20,000 square feet spare. However, Karthic says that if the Maruti-Suzuki orders fall in place, the company might look to set up a new facility in Pune.
However, it isn’t all that easy to convince Maruti-Suzuki, if Karthic is to be believed. At present, the Indo-Japanese major uses ball joints to reduce the engine vibrations. “This technology has worked for them and it’d be a tough pitch for Witzenmann to convince them to move from ball joints to decouplers,” says Karthic. However, he is confident that Witzenmann’s longstanding expertise in this industry will work in its favour.
Witzenmann’s success in the passenger car segment has also garnered the attention of commercial vehicle manufacturers and has led to the company being included in German major Daimler’s suppliers list for the Bharat Benz brand. Strip wound hoses are to be supplied to Daimler soon. The company, buoyed by its recent order bagging spree, is also in talks with Ashok Leyland for future models of the U-Truck. Witzenmann is also entering the light commercial vehicle segment with orders pouring in for the second product out of the Ashok Leyland-Nissan joint venture. The first phase saw the launch of the LCV Dost recently.
Speaking about the company’s global presence, Eberhard Wildermuth, director of automotive division, said that the company is in talks with Ford UK to supply products for its small cars, while still winning new projects for Ford USA.