Saket Sapra: "Dana with its access to global technology and dedication to drive trains will always have a major role to play."

by Nilesh Wadhwa 14 Mar 2022


Saket Sapra, MD, Dana TM4 India and head of Electrification, India and Southeast Asia, Dana speaks to Autocar Professional, and shares his views on the country's quest for electrification and its potential as a global export hub.

What are the key milestones for Dana in India?
The most important trend in the industry is that of electric powertrains. So in line with Dana’s global arm, we have set up a dedicated EV business arm. We are seeing an increased inquiries for CV trucks, LCVs, coach bus applications, lawn mowers, aerial work platforms, agricultural tractors and golf carts and are working on solutions for them. There is also an increased direction for more localisation of components and so by mid-2022, a majority of our components and materials for motors and inverters, would be India-sourced. There is a tremendous push for improving the overall electric powertrain efficiency. So therefore, we are also working seeing a movement towards permanent magnet synchronous motors, silicon carbide inverters and oil-cooled motors among others. We are also working on the increased demand for functional safety such as ISO 26262 compliance.

OEMs in the EV space are looking to produce their own motors and controllers. What does this trend mean for you?
Dana manufactures permanent magnet synchronous motors and inverters, which have high power densities and the latest cutting-edge technology, that few can offer in India today. We were the first movers for high voltage motors, manufacturing in India. Different OEMs for powertrains have different strategies and the same is true even in the traditional ICE segment. However, Dana with its access to global technology and dedication to drive trains will always have a major role to play. 

I see this more as an opportunity for us to keep bringing OEM’s cutting-edge technology that we have developed globally and locally and being ahead of the curve.

How much does India operations contribute to your overall sales?
India is certainly strategic for Dana and there is obviously tremendous growth YoY, and we are seeing double-digit growth and have been investing significantly. As a part of Dana’s Asia-Pacific region, which represented 13 percent of sales in 2020.

Going forward, what are the challenges and opportunities in India’s EV segment?
As far as challenges in the EV Industry: Infrastructure; an extensive Tier II and III supplier ecosystem especially, in certain components, uncertainty about the volumes of the e-bus segment, which are mostly dependent on tenders from STUs, cost increases due to global shortages, commodities, freight cost increases, significantly higher lead times for electronic parts, limited testing capabilities available in India, especially for high-voltage, high-power electrification products and a trained workforce. These will be challenges as we expand. We will continue to grow and invest in traditional ICE vehicle components as well as alternate power source vehicles.

On the other hand, there are opportunities in the electrification and alternate power source space. From our product perspective, high voltage to low-voltage motors, inverters, control units, including vehicle control units, our software for control strategy, and as we move forward, e-transmissions, e-axles. This is not only for BEV, but also fuel cell vehicles as we are power agnostic. 

What about India as an export hub for Dana?
We have received enquiries and even business for export markets. India will be one of the hubs for exporting to Dana plants and customers globally. We are starting off with low-voltage motors and will be moving to high-voltage motors and inverters, by the middle of 2022.

Will Dana look at targeting mass market e-two-wheeler or only the premium segment?
We want to provide the latest technology and solutions to our customers to meet their requirements. Our products lend itself very well to these segments. In terms of the low-voltage, lower power/torque segments, there are going to be multiple players in that segment with a high-volume, low-price game. Also, there will be different technologies including BLDC motors. We would rather play to our strengths and provide customer solutions that are more efficient and technology driven such a permanent magnet synchronous motors. As you look at the trends, there is a trend towards more efficient powertrains. There will always be a segment for high-volume, low-price products, but that is not a segment that we strategically want to focus on.

This feature was first published in March 1, 2022 issue of the Autocar Professional magazine.

Also read: Dana enhances product range to target EVs


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