In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity— that's the famous quote from none other than Albert Einstein. The Indian automotive industry has been witnessing tough times right since September 2018 and the Covid-19 has been a backbreaker. The countrywide lockdown led to plans being shelved, rescheduled or deferred. But, according to the German supplier SEG Automotive, light electric mobility will not get a major hiccup.
Having emerged from the Bosch Starter Motors & Generators division in January 2018, SEG Automotive has made much headway in electric vehicle parts. The company showcased its new EM 2.8 motor with an 8kW power output for e-autos and EM 1.5 with a 5 kW power output for two-wheelers during Auto Expo 2020 earlier this year in New Delhi.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Anil Kumar MR, president and MD, SEG Automotive India says, “We foresee promising growth in light e-mobility, post-Covid. The business case and the total cost of ownership with the environment will encourage more electrification and we expect this to catch up quickly. Pre-Covid, we were talking about shared mobility but now due to the social distancing, personal mobility will start gaining more prominence with small cars and light electromobility being the focus area. We would see a different market energy post-Covid and companies who are catching this area would grow faster.”
With most companies posting zero revenues in April, the slow start and adapting to change really adds value. Though there have been different predictions on what segments will rise after the pandemic is over, SEG feels demand in the light e-mobility segment will pick up. From the invention of the starter motor and generator to Start/Stop and mild-hybridisation, the company makes a significant contribution to the industry and climate protection by reducing emissions across powertrain technologies. Now, the global supplier is driving the transition towards more efficient combustion engines, 48V hybrids and electrification solutions.
High efficiency, competitive pricing
For an e-motor to be a real alternative, it needs to be efficient, reliable and competitively priced. SEG Automotive’s new EM 2.8 with 8kW power output for e-Autos (L5) and EM 1.5 with 5 kW power output for two-wheelers bring all these factors to the table and more. Their high power density combines compact packaging with great responsiveness. Enhanced by an advanced electromagnetic design, the motor prevents cogging torque. SEG says both the EM 1.5 and EM 2.8 deliver safe, reliable mobility. Their drive control system ensures functional safety in line with global standards, providing safe operation all the time. Specific protection features and increased robustness enable the e-machines to easily withstand the tough operating conditions on Indian roads.
Kumar states, “Even during the lockdown days, our customer interactions were pretty good and we see it promising both in the two- and three-wheeler space. We are developing solutions for light electro mobility and the products range from 2kW to 8kW. During the lockdown, the engineering teams were able to create a lot of simulations to improve our product portfolio in the segments. We are on track with our electrification portfolio of 2020 and we are positive about a quicker recovery post-Covid. This could happen even in the next month.”
About the difference it holds from its competitors in the e-motor segment, Kumar says SEG’s technology is based on PMSM, making it more efficient. This increases range and reduces the total cost of ownership.
“This is where the global R&D comes into play. The combination of 'glocal' brings in the best of technology to the Indian roads. We also make in India for the globe too. We use global technologies and adapt them to local conditions. This is our key advantage. And, we also make in India, and all of our products are strongly localised,” remarks Kumar.
The new normal
While everybody was looking forward to 2020 as a recovery year after a low 2019, the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic has laid countries and companies low. According to Kumar, SEG is responding in an agile manner with rapid implementation of measures through a cross-functional team. Even during the lockdown days, they focused on the circle of influence rather than blame the cycle of concern. The company’s primary focus was to have all plants restarted keeping all the health and safety standards for staff in mind.
Kumar says, “The next focus is on the phased ramp-up of the supply chain. The supply chain for the automotive industry is not so simple and with suppliers being in different zones, it is becoming a challenge. How we ramp up the supply chain and how we meet the customer demand in this phased ramp-up is important. This will be based on the demand generation, which in turn depends on two important factors — the control of the spread of the virus, and the influence of government policy. If the government brings in a scrappage policy and also relooks at GST, both on the vehicle as well as components side, it could drive the demand significantly faster. And, like all other industries, we are taking all possible measures to control cost and conserve it to stride over the crisis and emerge stronger. We are trying to adapt to the change and adopt the new normal.”
“We need to adopt the new normal. The new normal could be in the new manufacturing practices with new standard operating procedure," adds Kumar.
Now as businesses evolve, there will be a new way of working with a focus on productivity and quality. "From the product portfolio side, SEG is looking at also enhancing the features that fit the new normal and add value for customers’ emerging needs,” points out Kumar.
He also mentions that the pandemic has made the company scout for alternatives in the supply chain for manufacturing. The goal is to have a completely localised product.
SEG Automotive India's boss says there could be a behavioural change in customers and the business models, as the rural economy will be different from what it was pre-Covid. “With migrants moving back into the rural areas, this opens up a new opportunity. These are all the trends which are emerging in the market and companies which are agile will capitalise and add value to it."