Renowned automotive consultant Ricardo of the UK has set up a subsidiary in India to improve and expand its services for vehicle manufacturers. An exclusive.
The new company was officially launched on November 2, 2007 at a ceremony in New Delhi. The event took place in the presence of Richard Stagg, British High Commissioner to India and Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice-President, Al Gore). Commenting on the launch, Dave Shemmans, Ricardo Group CEO, says: "As one of the fastest growing emerging markets and boasting some of the world's leading industrial companies, India is extremely important for Ricardo. The launch of Ricardo India will bring us closer to our customers in India and enable us to offer an improved and more responsive level of service. An integral part of the global Ricardo network of offices and technical centres, Ricardo India will also enable us to more effectively support our Indian customers as they increasingly aspire to enter regional and global markets.’ According to Surjit Singh Kalra, who has been Ricardo’s India representative for the last 20 years and is now chairman of Ricardo India, the company is currently working with several auto makers on small engines for ultra low cost cars. Besides this it is also working on engine and transmission engineering, control and electronics and strategic consulting.
Another key member of the senior management team is executive vice- president Trevor Downes, who has worked for Ricardo in the UK since 1996 in various roles including diesel engine development and testing as well as in operational management positions. Meanwhile, former managing director of Kalra Consultancy, Indeep Madan has been appointed Ricardo India’s vice-president.
Focus on India
India is the latest addition to Ricardo’s network of technical centres and offices in the UK, USA, Germany, the Czech Republic, China, Japan and Korea. The global demand for environment-friendly cars has seen Ricardo become more actively involved in the development of clean, high fuel-economy and low CO2 vehicle technologies. In India, Ricardo has found its services in demand from Indian car makers as they seek to meet stringent emission and safety norms in both the domestic and international markets. Among the services which Ricardo provides globally are vehicle systems integration, controls, electronics and software development. It also works on the latest driveline and transmission systems and petrol, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies.
According to Kalra, “We are going to carefully study the market and understand our client’s demands over the next year or two and then decide our long-term strategy and expansion in India including strategic consulting. Currently, the team here has been doing consultancy on engines, transmissions, NVH, fuel economy, driveline and acoustics.” Ricardo has also been running an office out of Germany that handles strategic consultancy. Besides tracking possible mergers and acquisitions in the auto sector across the world, it also looks at future trends in manufacturing activity and component sourcing which includes India.
Talking about future growth targets, vice-president Indeep Madan says: “Ricardo would like to double its India business within the next three to five years from last year’s level of around Rs 56 crore. Doubling this would be close to what China and Japan give to Ricardo today.’
Meanwhile, Trevor Downes, executive vice-president, states: “Ricardo will be utilising the existing infrastructure provided by government bodies, as well as upcoming testing centres like NATRIP for engine development.” Madan adds that Ricardo is keen to tap Indian engineering expertise in areas like commercial vehicle development and is keen to transfer this kind of expertise to its other development centres around the world.
Areas of expertise
Ricardo is recognised worldwide as an authority on the development of petrol engines and has a heritage of nearly a century of successful engine design. Through continued investment in research, it is also pioneering the technologies that will feature in future petrol-engined vehicles.
It has extensive experience in developing petrol combustion systems, ranging from ultra-lean burn systems to highly turbocharged engines. Sophisticated tools, particularly computational fluid dynamics, are used to shorten the development process and ensure the highest quality. The Ricardo steady-state flow rig – providing cost-effective quantification of bulk swirl or tumble – provides the starting point in most programmes. Use of computational fluid-dynamics, particularly the Ricardo Software VECTIS, is then used to optimise and refine the design.
Engine downsizing describes the substitution of a naturally-aspirated engine by an engine of smaller swept volume, and the downsized engine is typically turbocharged. The introduction of downsized engines is a key element of a powertrain strategy to meet future requirements for reduced carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption. Ricardo has developed a number of alternative concepts for downsized DI petrol engines, each seeking maximum efficiency by maintaining high compression ratio, dilution and other measures. Each concept has been experimentally investigated using a multi-cylinder turbocharged DI petrol engines, and the most promising concept – Lean Boost DI (LBDI) – has been further developed with a demonstrator vehicle programme.
The company also has extensive experience of Heavy Duty Diesel (HDD) engine technology and industrial programmes delivered to a global customer base. Drawing on a global resource of over 450 engineers, the HDD engine group offers comprehensive engineering services, including concept design, industrial design and development and combustion system research among others.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Driveline and Transmissions provides independent design and development of production transmissions and vehicle drivelines. Its customers include manufacturers of all types of transmissions and vehicles in all world markets. Sectors include passenger cars, powered two-wheelers, commercial, marine, military, agriculture and construction equipment. Ricardo is also the world’s leading independent developer of the acclaimed Dual Clutch Transmission and in 2005 became only the second production supplier of this technology to Bugatti for the Veyron high performance road car. The group provides tailored engineering programmes from concept studies in design and benchmarking through to validated and tested production designs. The group has advanced CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) analysis and simulation techniques, through to on-site high quality manufacture of development transmissions, complimented by state of the art computer controlled testing rigs.
In the Control and Electronics field, Ricardo expects that over 90 per cent of future innovations in vehicles will be facilitated by electronic systems. Ricardo Control & Electronics Product Group is the world leader in automotive control, electronic, and electrical systems development, with specific expertise in powertrain and vehicle control, electrical integration and engineering to production, supplier management, simulation, and modeling. It covers a full range of applications from passenger cars and motorcycles to heavy duty trucks and off-highway vehicles.
As the Indian auto industry increasingly go global, expect to hear a lot about Ricardo in the coming years.
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