Varadan Devanathan, president of Yanfeng Automotive Interiors India (YFAI), which has plants in Sanand, Pune and Chennai, believes vehicle interior design will undergo the most profound changes seen in decades. An interview by Kiran Bajad.
Yanfeng Automotive Interiors makes cockpits, instrument panels, door panels, floor consoles, overhead consoles, decorative trim, smart surfaces and lighting technologies. What is the product portfolio for India?
With our completed product portfolio and the positioning of a total interior integrator, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors in India manufactures all our core products including cockpits, instrument panel, door panel, floor consoles and trims. Paired with deep vertical integration in engineering, manufacturing and excellence in execution, like everywhere else, our facilities in India can rapidly bring superior new solutions to the local market that support customer requirements.
Can you detail Yanfeng Automotive Interiors India’s business plan and growth game-plan?
Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is a leading automotive interior supplier with more than 110 facilities in 20 countries and 33,000 employees globally. It is a joint venture between Yanfeng, one of the largest automotive suppliers in China and Adient, the global leader in automotive seating, both with long histories of automotive experience and industry recognised reputations.
Varadan Devanathan: "YFAI India leverages global capability to its fullest, wherein we are able to shorten development time and satisfy varying customer requirements."
Being part of the global company, YFAI India has three manufacturing sites close to OEMs and an engineering centre that orchestrates engineering resources for the India market. In 2017, YFAI India achieved YoY growth of 40 percent with 400 employees.
Who are YFAI’s key clientele and which vehicle segment offers superior growth?
YFAI began its India operations in 2012 in Gujarat. Since then, YFAI India has been growing steadily and established three manufacturing footprints – in Sanand, Pune and Chennai – to support customers in those regions primarily for the passenger vehicle business. We also set up an engineering centre in Pune, as part of our global engineering network, to support both local and global program needs.
Vehicle interiors of the future will transform into a customisable, second living space. Yanfeng's demonstrator vehicle, the XiM 18, shows just that.
India is a highly growing market and would continue to witness smooth growth in the future. Significant demands on small cars, vans and MPVs take up most of today’s market, but remarkable growth in the A/B-segment SUVs is also expected in the next five years. We are continuously widening our customer base and expect to serve more OEMs in the years to come.
India is today among the world’s fastest-growing automotive markets globally. What is YFAI’s near-term and long-term growth forecasts for India?
Compared to 2016, the India light vehicle market grew more than 9.5 percent in 2017 and has been ranked in the top 4 globally. This shows great potential. The next five years project a 7 percent CAGR on the India light vehicle market. Besides, the market is also seeking to upgrade on entire interiors. YFAI, as a leading interior supplier, perfectly suits the market requirements.
YFAI is committed to India and would like to continue the development in manufacturing or technologies to be able to drive the growth of the Indian auto industry. Our vision is to create ‘Better life on board’. To bring our vision to life, we’ve made it our mission to be our customers’ preferred partner for automotive interior solutions. With our global resources and strengths, YFAI India would bring customers, expertise and great experience in all aspects from innovation, processes, execution excellence to our unique corporate culture and employees with passion.
What are YFAI’s R&D capabilities and new product development programme?
YFAI India has a global engineering centre that supports our domestic engineering requirements apart from supporting our global design and development requirements. Our engineering centre has more than 100 people supporting our local and global needs. The highlight is that we follow globally standardised processes, irrespective of region or location.
Our global network of engineering is connected seamlessly to ensure swift response to customers and benefits facilities in all markets. For instance, the Technical Centre in China has full capability of design and development, testing and validation that can conduct any DV/PV test that would support our product lines. YFAI India leverages this capability to its fullest advantage wherein we are able to shorten development time and to satisfy varying customer requirements.
With electric mobility emerging as a big business opportunity, is YFAI India working on new interiors for EVs?
Innovation is integral to everything we do. We don’t just design and manufacture best-in-class vehicle interiors but also enhance end users’ onboard experiences. At YFAI, we have a global function for innovations. They anticipate technology trends, conduct consumer research and work closely with customers in different markets for solutions for future interiors.
The automotive industry is undergoing fundamental changes. Autonomous driving, connectivity, shared mobility, and especially e-mobility, are changing consumer attitudes and demands for automobiles. YFAI is at the heart of these changes. Our interior vision of the future is already reflected in the innovation demonstrator XiM 18 – with over 30 innovations and new technologies. It is the result of a two-year R&D process and the answer to the automotive industry’s global trends. Whether traditional interior parts, new lightweight solutions, adaptive interiors or smart surfaces and decorative trim and lighting, most of the innovations are ready to manufacture in the next generation of vehicles. And India, for sure, is a potential market for those new technologies.
(This interview was first featured in the May 1, 2018 issue of Autocar Professional)
Also read: Yanfeng Automotive Interiors joins Plug and Play innovation platform