‘India grows as a strategic market for Axalta globally.’

Charles Shaver, chairman and CEO, Axalta Coating Systems, on the company’s aggressive growth plan and on developing India-specific products. An interview by Amit Panday.

By Amit Panday calendar 09 Jun 2014 Views icon5789 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘India grows as a strategic market for Axalta globally.’

Charles Shaver, chairman and CEO, Axalta Coating Systems, on the company’s aggressive growth plan and on developing India-specific products. An interview by Amit Panday.

What is your assessment of the Indian automotive market’s requirements?
The Indian auto coating market – especially the refinish coating segment – has been growing in double digits. We expect the refinish market to shift to increasingly environmentally responsible products such as waterborne and / or low emission solvent-based products, although we appreciate that different players in the markets will make the transition along a timeline that meet their needs. Currently, some Japanese and German OEMs manufacturing in India are using waterborne products in their body shops.

How do you see the growing demand shaping up? Do you see a clear focus on quality as also quantity?
The India market is a strategic focus for growth for Axalta and we’ll look for opportunities to expand our presence in the market organically or by acquisition. We already are an industry leader in the OEM body shop segment where our business is organised to meet the evolving needs of the Indian customer.
Environmentally responsible brands such as our recently launched Cromax Pro, our extended distribution network, sales and technical service teams, regional training centres across the country and the local manufacturing capability in Savli, Gujarat, are geared to meet customer needs. Customers receive training about the product, application tips which reduce waste and repainting, which can translate into savings and greater productivity.
Cromax Pro also meets growing interest in low-VOC and high productivity coating systems for body shops. Cromax Pro features Axalta’s latest waterborne technology, designed to help decrease customers’ overall environmental footprint and boost the sustainable development of India’s automotive industry.
Our remaining product portfolio covers the entire range of refinish market needs as well as the bus segment with established brands like Cromax, Standox, Duxone, Nason and Lucite which cater to all the key market segments. In addition, we have a range of cutting-edge colour tools such as tint charts, shade cards and colour formulation books to help customers accurately match colours with ease.

How is Axalta’s presence in India geared up to address OEMs’ requirements here?
India is already an important market for our commercial transportation business with customers like Tata-Marcopolo. Axalta also supplies automotive plastics coating products for OEMs. The auto industry occupies a significant place in the Indian economy which is emerging as a global hub for auto component sourcing and is set to break into the league of top vehicle producing nations worldwide.
To be competitive, we expect customers will continue to look for efficient ways of using coating systems with the goal of improving productivity. Coatings in OEMs, for example, are a significant factor in terms of investment in plant and equipment as well as time. In a number of countries, OEMs use our 3-Wet (Wet-on-Wet) consolidated systems to help reduce bake steps. Our system has the potential to both reduce capital costs and improve productivity. We’re ready with competitive systems as the sector grows.

What colour trends do you see taking shape in the Indian auto industry?
In 2013, silver remained the most popular colour in India at 30 percent with white a close second at 28 percent. Blue, red and green collectively make up 15-17 percent and browns/beiges another 10-12 percent. Darker colours like black received little interest, holding only seven percent of the market.

What are the innovative technologies used by Axalta in developing its own automotive colour schemes?
Our R&D capabilities in colour are among the best in the industry. We have an expansive database of colours and cutting-edge technology that enables us to accurately match colours requested by OEMs and their consumers.
To help our technicians find and mix the right colours, we provide digital colour tools such as web-based colour retrieval systems, colour measurement instruments, digital colour representation technology and paint mixing systems.

What activities does Axalta’s R&D unit in Savli undertake?
We pride ourselves on being a high-technology company backed by almost a century and a half of product innovation and thought leadership. Across the globe, at a dedicated network of R&D centres, we look for new products to meet evolving customer needs while continually evaluating ways to improve existing products.
We have started a technology centre in Savli last year. It deploys the latest equipment for the development and testing of paints and benefits from being part of a global R&D network. Our main focus will be to develop and design products to meet the requirements of local customers.

The process of manufacturing colours can be highly polluting. What are the steps undertaken by Axalta to ensure zero pollution in India and globally?
We have a responsibility to try to protect the communities in which we do business. Each of our manufacturing centres is ISO 14001 certified and our internal environment, health and safety policies and practices often go beyond regulatory requirements. We also strive to help our customers achieve similar goals.
One of our significant achievements in R&D has been the development of consolidated systems such as our 3-Wet and Eco-Concept solutions that reduce the amount of paint used by OEMs but that still results in great effects without sacrificing quality.
These coating systems also reduce the energy required for the paint process. The results are lower CO2 and VOC emissions. When these processes also use waterborne coatings, they contribute further to a reduced environmental footprint by the industry.
Our waterborne coatings also are designed to deliver a productivity advantage over other technologies. So even in markets that aren’t yet required to meet legislated requirements, we believe our new water-based technology offers advantages from a productivity standpoint.
India, as with the rest of the world markets, is increasingly demanding more environmentally responsible coatings and we’ve made investments to increase waterborne production in some of
our largest markets. This will be relevant in India, where the government has called for auto companies to adopt more environmentally responsible solutions.

How do you read competition in the automotive coating systems space in India?                                                                                                              The Indian car parc and, therefore, the coating market – especially the refinish coating segment – is small relative to some global markets, but it has been growing in double digits with a combination of international and local players, making it an increasingly competitive market. 

The biggest challenge is, as always, to keep up with the evolving needs of our customers and their requests for new coatings solutions. With limited capacity in A-class body shops, especially in metro areas, there is a growing focus on productivity improvements to bring down cost, which has triggered demand for coating technologies that offer faster clears and quick repair systems.
Our products, such as Cromax Pro, can significantly increase productivity in the refinish body shop by requiring less time and fewer coats to achieve full coverage versus alternatives.

What are Axalta's future plans and immediate priorities in India and also globally?
India is one of our priority markets in Asia Pacific. While we are confident in our current position here, we see potential for further growth in the region. In particular, Axalta is committed to leading the India refinish coatings industry with innovative and sustainable coating solutions, an expansive distribution network, sales offices and regional training centres in major cities with local manufacturing capabilities. We understand our customers’ needs and we will continue to introduce new products to support their long-term growth in the region as we just did earlier this year with the introduction of Cromax Pro.

Which are Axalta’s automotive clients in India?
We expect the market to grow and we will continue to identify opportunities to support our customers in their growth plan through investments on ground, manufacturing facility, distribution network, sales and technical service teams, and training centres.
We’ve just opened a new head office in India and will continue to invest in our people, build their skills and capabilities to meet evolving customer needs. We serve the aftermarket collision repair needs of all the key OEMs in India. We also supply automotive plastics coatings for OEMs like Ford India, General Motors India, Honda, Hyundai Motors India, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes-Benz India, Maruti Suzuki India, Tata Motors, Toyota and Volvo Buses.


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