SPR Engenious drives diversification at Shriram Pistons & Rings

The engine component maker is now expanding its business with the manufacturing of motors and controllers through its wholly-owned subsidiary SPR Engenious, and has plans to scale up the electric powertrain solutions for all applications. Krishnakumar Srinivasan, Shriram Pistons & Rings MD and CEO, and Krishna M, Deputy Executive Director at SPR Engenious, speak to Autocar Professional about the company’s strategy.

By Kiran Murali calendar 19 Apr 2024 Views icon4272 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
(L-R) Krishna M, DY. Executive Director, SPR Engenious and Krishnakumar Srinivasan, Managing Director & CEO, Shriram Pistons & Rings

(L-R) Krishna M, DY. Executive Director, SPR Engenious and Krishnakumar Srinivasan, Managing Director & CEO, Shriram Pistons & Rings

With a history spanning over five decades, Shriram Pistons & Rings Ltd (SPR) has been a trusted player in the Indian auto components industry with the supply of pistons, piston rings and engine valves to original equipment makers in India and abroad. As the automotive industry undergoes a significant transformation towards alternative fuels, particularly electric vehicles, the New Delhi-based company is now charting a strategic path to diversifying its business into components for electric vehicles.

At the heart of the diversification is SPR Engenious Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary set up by SPR in 2022 with an investment of Rs 3.5 billion to expand its product offerings into new areas. “SPR Engenious is the wing for our future investments as well for some of the legacy products, which we might manufacture through them,” Shriram Pistons & Rings Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Krishnakumar Srinivasan told Autocar Professional.

Currently, the share of electric vehicles component sales is low in the Shriram Pistons & Rings consolidated revenue. However, with the electric vehicle penetration seen in the range of 20-25 percent by 2030, the electric vehicle business will have a significant role to play for the company. “In the long run, we expect our EV business to almost have fairly good revenue as much as the company generates in its piston and rings, maybe by the end of this decade,” Srinivasan said.

EV business through SPR Engenious to be major growth engine

Shriram Pistons & Rings entered the core electric vehicle business, electric motors and control systems, through SPR Engenious. One of the big-ticket investments that SPR Engenious has made is in EMF Innovations Pvt Ltd by acquiring a 66 percent stake. EMF Innovation is a Singapore-based electric motor and controller design company with manufacturing operations in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

The company manufactures low-voltage motor and controller systems in the range of 48-96 V for electric two and three-wheelers, while it also makes high-voltage motors for commercial vehicles and passenger cars with 330V – 800V capacity.

The management boasts of being the first player to give motors and controllers coupled together as a system solution. SPR Engenious is looking to leverage the legacy built by the Shriram Pistons & Rings over the years to connect with the OEMS. When asked about what advantage the company has over its competitors in expanding its customer base quickly, Srinivasan said: “We have a strong base to pitch in and get to OEMs for EV business through the legacy of our pistons and rings business. There is a strong OEM connect, and strong service connect because we have service set up all over the country with 1,200 touch points.”

EMF Innovations’ production capacity at its Coimbatore facility is fungible. The factory currently manufactures 150,000 motors per annum in two shifts, and SPR Engenious is planning to ramp it up by three times to up to 450,000 motors by the end of this year. The company has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tamil Nadu government for the new land in Coimbatore for a greenfield factory.

“We are working with many of our customers. Samples have been given and they are all in the testing phase. We are also doing direct sales to as many as 200-250 customers, many of them being startups. We are supporting the entire network of EV manufacturers that is evolving in the country,” said Srinivasan. He noted that the company is getting a lot of inquiries for the motor and this calls for a significant expansion.

Shriram Pistons & Rings did not disclose the additional investment it is making in EMF Innovation for its capacity expansion but Srinivasan said the investment is “quite substantial.”

On the localisation front, EMF Innovations has localised over 80 percent of the content. Except for magnets and electronics, the company is not dependent on imports, said Krishna M, deputy executive director at SPR Engenious.

He noted that the company is doing a lot of research and experiments to replace the use of rare earth magnets in a bid to reduce the imports of magnets from China. “Electronics will also be a thing of the past as soon as our controller line is operational, which will happen in another two months,” Krishna added.

Though SPR Engenious’ current electric vehicle business is limited to just motors and controllers, the company plans to get into the entire power train business in the future. “Except batteries, the entire powertrain is something which we are looking at. We want to supply the motors, controllers and the gearbox coupled systems,” Krishna said.

SPR Engenious is currently not a beneficiary of the government’s Rs 25,938 crore production-linked incentive scheme for automobile and auto components. “We are not part of it because the investment commitment was required to be part of that scheme when it was launched, we felt that it was too early for us to commit to that. Now we are in a better position to relook at the PLI scheme if the government reopens it,” Srinivasan said.

A strategy to hold the core ICE business fortress

While drawing its strategy to capitalise on the shift towards electrification, Shriram Pistons & Rings remains committed to retaining its market position in the core ICE vehicle business. With a 20-25 percent electric vehicle penetration forecast by 2030, the management believes ICE business will continue to remain very large and there is significant headroom for growth as the overall industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4-5 percent during the seven years till 2030. “We firmly believe that all the technologies are going to co-exist for some time. There are going to be ICE engines that run on pure gasoline, and diesel. Hybridisation is also coming in a big way. And we see that even within the fuel there will be a multifuel system coming in like CNG, LNG, H-CNG, Biofuels, etc.,” Srinivasan said. He noted that Shriram Pistons & Rings is already working on a couple of multifuel proposals and has developed products to have ethanol blending of up to 85 percent. “We have also given product samples for hydrogen-fueled vehicles. We will be supplying the pistons for that,” he added.

The company’s legacy business customers include almost all the top OEMs in the country while supplying to global brands as well. With its strong research and development, Shriram Pistons & Rings has developed products for CNG, hydrogen, and LNG engines. SPR Engenious will also manufacture products for its legacy business.

The company has acquired a 75 percent stake in Takahata Precision India, which manufactures automotive parts such as precision molded parts and precision molds for various injection molding applications. “We will continue to invest in ICE business. We are not going to slow down in our ICE business. We are committed to servicing the last ICE engine that is made anywhere in the world, which may happen 30- 40 years from now,” said Srinivasan.

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