This is the "golden decade for India," says ZF's Stefan von Schuckmann

India’s e-mobility drives can offer specialist technology companies like Germany’s ZF an opportunity to consider expanding their scope of work in this countryT

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 26 Oct 2023 Views icon5796 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
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Stefan von Schuckmann is very impressed with India and the potential it offers. He is Member of the Board of Management of the ZF Group - Materials Management, Asia-Pacific Region, Electrified Powertrain Technology since 2021. At the IAA 2023 show in Munich, Germany, he told Autocar Professional that this is the “golden decade for India” and the German Auto Component major is actively looking at expanding the scope of India as part of its China plus One strategy.

Schuckmann who leads the electrified powertrain technology division at ZF says the acceptance rate for “E-Mobility” in India is going to “jump up quite quickly” and ZF is looking at participating in the business by facilitating localisation to cater to the “price sensitive Indian market.”

Schuckmann’s appointment to ZF’s Board of Management from January 1, 2021, coincided with a significant change in the group structure. On the product front, Schuckmann said he sees the demand for inverter technology, e-motors technology including electric drivetrain systems and mechanical reducer, which ZF may consider localising. However, he also points out the challenges that need to be addressed.

“You know, the challenge around India is that you obviously are an extremely cost sensitive market, but from a let's say industrialisation or localisation of the technology, that’s not full at scale yet in comparison to other Asian countries. So, that's always the general challenge around India. ZF is active in India. We're continuously in dialogue with our local customers and we're looking for opportunities to localise if it's feasible,” he added.

As a company, ZF has committed over Euro 200 million for the Indian market for the coming decade that will not only push the thrust on localising parts, but also help quadruple its sourcing from India to the tune of almost Euro 2 billion by the end of the decade.

Schuckmann explained that India is “one of the benefiting countries” of the geo-political tensions that one witnesses seeing around China. “India has a history of being a good supplier for smaller systems and components. We look at all these options, and also try to generate some sort of independence. Absolutely. You know, you need to think ahead and you need to think about supply chain dependencies, and you need to make sure that you can offer solutions for your customers that reduce the risk and that's why we have the motor here today. Everybody wants to look at it," he added.

He reminded that while everyone is busy getting their heads around “e-mobility” and facing challenges to ramp it up all around the world, building factories, etc, ZF won't give up the combustion engine technology and India is a core and large supply base for ZF especially on the transmission technology.

“We have very competent engineers in India, who are not only working on electric mobility but are really transforming and redesigning our combustion engine components. Hence India is not just a supply base for ZF, but it's also an engineering base. And (that will be the case) as long as the markets demand, the market will still be there for years, if not, for even for decades and India will be at the core of it,” added Schuckmann.

He said, India will be important to cater to not only conventional petrol or diesel powertrain but also hybridised systems. “Everything around Africa and everywhere else, and they will need either hybridised or conventional systems, and they'll come from ZF. We're not stopping and one of the key supply bases will be from India including engineering,” he added.A couple of years ago, ZF had announced its “Refresh strategy in India which was based on four pillars of Restructure, Re-adapt, Reinforce and Retain in order to have a larger foothold in the Indian market and elevate it to play a much bigger global role and all the steps taken in 2021 are being played out at present.ZF had said it will Readapt: through higher levels of localisation and a strong thrust on design-to- market-solutions with an eye on introducing advanced global technological solutions at an affordable value for the Indian market.

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's October 15, 2023 issue.

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