July 1, 2012: S Sandilya, President, SIAM & IMMA
The SIAM president, who has recently been elected president of the International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association for 2012-14, tells Shobha Mathur about how he plans to increase cooperation among OEMs, focus on safety and new technologies.
Congratulations on your appointment as IMMA president. What does it mean for SIAM and India?
The members of IMMA represent the entire two-wheeler manufacturing industry of the world and IMMA itself represents the industry’s interests in technical aspects, especially those concerning safety and international standards. Further, IMMA has a technical sub-committee and a road safety committee through which it networks with the key global bodies involved in framing of regulations.IMMA also regularly tracks the state of the two-wheeler industry in various countries through data collection, interactive sessions where the global two-wheeler industry shares information on the latest developments in the scooter and motorcycle industry. This will enable SIAM as well as the Indian two-wheeler industry to keep pace with the latest developments globally and increase technical exposure to global markets.IMMA was established in 1947 and SIAM has been its member since 2005. The other members of IMMA include the Federation of Asian Motorcycle Industries (FAMI) which includes the ASEAN countries and Japan; ACEM which represents the European two-wheeler industry, USMMA of the United States, MMIC of Canada and FCAI from Australia. CAAM from China has also recently joined the membership of IMMA.In its 65 years, IMMA has made significant contributions to the cause of safety and global harmonisation of two- wheeler standards. It has a direct representation and is quite active at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe WP-29 which works for harmonising technical standards on safety and emissions on a global level.
What are the challenges you expect to face as IMMA president?
One of the challenges is that the usage and market dynamics of the two-wheeler industry varies so much worldwide that it is very difficult to evolve a harmonised view of the industry on many technical issues. For example, in the western world, two-wheelers are used mostly for leisure and sport, which means they tend to be of high value with big engines with more power. The consumer wants high performance from these two-wheelers and fuel efficiency is not a very important parameter. On the other hand, the two-wheelers used in Asian countries including India tend to be smaller, with lower power and performance parameters. These two-wheelers are used by the masses mainly as a low-cost means of commuting and, therefore, fuel efficiency is an important factor. Also, the total number of two-wheeler sales in western countries is very low compared to sales in Asian countries. These differences in the market dynamics and the type of vehicles sold also result in variations in the technical standards like riding cycles, average speeds, and emission patterns among others.One of the objectives of IMMA is to develop consensus within the global industry on technical requirements in the wake of these large variations in the product profile. Another challenge that faces us today are different types of safety requirements for two-wheelers that are enforced in the world. These variations may be due to cultural factors in these countries. For example, in India we have a safety regulation of a saree guard that does not exist anywhere else in the world. How do we harmonise the safety regulations as long as such variations exist due to cultural factors? So there will have to be a reasonable amount of flexibility in any standard without compromising on safety.
How does IMMA membership help the Indian two-wheeler industry?
The advantages to the Indian two-wheeler industry accrue in many ways. Firstly, through membership of IMMA, the Indian two-wheeler industry becomes a part of the global two-wheeler fraternity. India is the second largest two-wheeler manufacturer in the world, but the type of motorcycles and scooters demanded by the consumer in India are of the 100-150cc variety.The utilisation pattern of such two-wheelers is very different from the powered two-wheelers (PTWs) being used in Europe and USA. Therefore, this platform gives us the opportunity to ensure that the designs of international standards adequately take into account the needs of the smaller PTWs which form the bulk of the volumes in India.
What is your immediate plan of action?
One of my tasks as IMMA president will be to foster greater cooperation between the global PTW manufacturing nations and work towards bringing harmony and consensus, wherever required.Secondly, road safety is a very important aspect for IMMA. PTWs, being two-wheeled vehicles, can become unsafe if not used properly. Accident data from all over the world proves that two-wheelers are at a disadvantage in any accident involving a two-wheeler and a four-wheeler. However, in an accident between a two-wheeler and a pedestrian, the injuries and even fatalities are minimal on both sides. Therefore, it is imperative to take steps to make two-wheeler vehicles safer for the rider. For example, proper use of helmets and headlights are critical to ensure rider safety. In terms of new technologies, the world is moving towards electric mobility to conserve fossil fuels. To support new technologies, for example EVs, we need to develop new standards and operational norms which could be followed globally to bring in uniformity and harmonisation.
How can Indian two-wheeler OEMs connect better with global industry?
So far, the Indian two-wheeler manufacturers have been participating regularly but in a modest manner in the global activities of IMMA.With the presidentship of IMMA coming to India, I hope that it will encourage the Indian PTW manufacturers to intensify their role in IMMA at the working level of the Technical Committee and the Road Safety Committee. IMMA needs a high level of participation from technical experts from the industry who can contribute in the process of formulation of regulations as well as develop consensus on technical matters. This would certainly present a big opportunity for the Indian PTW manufacturers to globalise their mindsets and play a more constructive role in global regulation and standard setting.
The importance of India as a strong export base for auto parts suppliers is increasing, says Anil Kumar M R, President a...
In an exclusive interview, Radha Krishnan, President and Founder, Detroit Engineered Products (DEP) talks about how the ...
Paul Farrell, the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of component supplier BorgWarner tells Autocar Pro...