‘Our investment in R&D is between 1.5-2 percent of our revenues’: Daniele Lorenzetti

Daniele Lorenzetti, Chief Technology Officer, Apollo Tyres, speaks about the R&D centre in Oragadam.

By Chandan B Mallik calendar 21 Jan 2023 Views icon6806 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

To support the growth and operations, Apollo Tyres has set up the R&D centre, Asia, the second global centre after the Global R&D centre, Europe, in the Netherlands which has been operational since 2013. In addition to the two Global R&D centres, Apollo Tyres has set up two satellite R&D centres, one in Bengaluru and the other at Raunheim, Germany. The Global R&D Centre, Asia has been operational since 2016 and is located at Oragadam, the auto hub bordering the city of Chennai. We spoke with Daniele Lorenzetti, Chief Technology Officer, Apollo Tyres during his recent visit.

Apollo Tyres has just upgraded the Chennai, India-based R&D Centre with some new technology applications. What can they do and how will it help in your product development efforts?
The new test centre features a Flat-trac machine and an anechoic chamber are the two technologies that we have brought in that help define the dynamics and acoustics of tyres. These applications will lead to faster product development for both OE and replacement markets. The development of tyres for high-end passenger vehicles, EV specific tyres for passenger vehicles and high-end motorcycle tyres will be at the heart of work taking place within the new facility.

Flat-trac is a sophisticated machine that is capable of measuring force and momentum properties that affect vehicle performance and handling. It does it by applying vertical, camber, steer and drive/braking inputs to a spinning tyre on a flat surface. The anechoic chamber helps determine tyre noise levels of the new tyres during development by simulating various road conditions.

You also have an R&D Centre in Holland. Is the Chennai R&D centre focused on India or does it have a bigger role to play?
For the organisation, there are two R&D centres now located in two regions (Europe and India). Both are working together seamlessly. We have a lot of common projects and hence there are a lot of synergies between the two establishments. There are then specific projects that are dedicated to specific markets, those are developed locally.

What is the role of the India R&D centre?
We consider it our third pillar. This advanced test centre is also dedicated to smart development. That means that it's not only a matter of understanding, knowing what we have to do, technology, sustainability, whatever, but it is mainly a matter of having all the tools to deliver the target in the most efficient way and what we call smart development is exactly focusing on that.

We have to use more and more advanced technologies like simulation or whatever is needed to be more efficient (time-wise) and more effective. The Chennai-set-up has all the tools, simulation labs and field testing infrastructure for these.

What is the business mission of Apollo Tyres R&D set-up and how much is invested on R&D?
Our mission of course is to develop products with technology to meet evolving the customer needs and requirements of OEM automotive brands. We are supporting two brands — one is Apollo and the other one is Vredestein. Apollo is mainly for India, but Vredestein is a brand that we have launched recently as a premium brand for premium tyres in Europe.Our investment in R&D is between 1.5-2 percent of our revenues.

How would you define the technical challenges that you have to meet nowadays?
First of all, we have, we would like to mention that, today the mega trends in the automotive business are mainly challenged by various regulations. Legislation is evolving and it is evolving faster. Therefore, there’s an impact on the business and on the strategies of the automotive players. Europe is historically leading this journey and the green deal of 2050 that has been approved several years ago. There is a new Euro 7 regulation under discussion that we are expecting that will be approved soon. It will set even more strict emission and mileage limits for the vehicles. And so, we are expecting that these will impact more adoption of electrical vehicles. So our tyre development work is very much defined by all the above.

Future cars are getting more connected features all-around. Where does your tyre technology fit in this ecosystem?
With autonomous or cars equipped with ADAS technologies, the drive tomorrow will be different than the drive today. The tyre and the vehicle will be connected and be able to communicate to guarantee that everything is running properly and safely. The development that we are doing today like the Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems and other advanced uses of sensors are important today, but are even important for the future because the tyres should be monitored and integrated in the car’s other systems like the radar-based LIDAR.

This interview was first published in Autocar Professional's January 15, 2023 issue.

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