'Working an aggressive strategy for the H2 economy, H2ICE, Fuel Cells and RDEs': Dr Rajeev Gautam, R T Desai

Dr Rajeev Gautam, Corporate Officer, Horiba Japan and President, Horiba India and R T Desai, Segment Head — Automotive, talk about plans to deal with the changes and disruptions in the sector.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 29 May 2023 Views icon7706 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Headquartered in New Delhi, Horiba India, subsidiary of the Horiba Group started its operations in India in 2006. The tech-savvy company deals in the area of automotive, medical diagnostics, semiconductors and scientific, process and environmental instruments. The company is closely watching the changes and disruptions happening in the country’s automotive sector. It aims to address the domestic and global market trends and challenges like — carbon neutrality, net zero, green hydrogen and microplastics, besides offering analysis and measurement solutions using cutting-edge technologies for various applications.

Autocar Professional discussed the various issues with Dr Rajeev Gautam, Corporate Officer, Horiba Japan and President, Horiba India and RT Desai, Segment Head – Automotive.

Tell us about Horiba India Automotive — who you are, what you do and your connection with the automotive industry.
Rajeev Gautam (RG): In India, Horiba Automotive started around 35 years ago with the support of our distributors. Horiba India took over this business as a direct entity in 2006. We have been serving our clients with the latest, innovative products and solutions meeting the required local and international environmental regulations from our factories in Japan, Germany and the US.

The company provides innovative applications and insights, advanced automotive testing, validation and verification technologies and equipment and ongoing guidance and consultation to client partners across the globe. With 70 years of unmatched comprehensive scientific and analytical measurement and data management proficiencies, our ever-expanding engineering expertise and ongoing innovations provide customers with complete solutions that solve industry challenges. We deliver all of this from a prevailing position of lasting industrial leadership, established integrity, recognised reliability and continual collaboration with automobile leaders across the globe.

Who are your major clients and what’s your business turnover?
RG: The major market leaders for two, three and four-wheeler, commercial vehicle manufacturers, Off Road Engine/Vehicle and Tier I and Tier II suppliers like Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, Ashok Leyland, Cummins, Hyundai, Bajaj, TVS, and their component manufacturers such as Denso, Bosch, Eco CAT etc. are key customers for Horiba Automotive in India and worldwide.

Net turnover of Horiba Group is about 270 billion JPY as per FY22 consolidated figures and 25 percent of this net sale is achieved from the automotive business of Horiba Group.

What growth opportunities have you witnessed post Covid-19 as the automotive markets begin to recover?
RG: The conventional emission measurement market seems to be average post-Covid-19, with the market trend now shifting to using alternative fuels like CNG, ethanol on one hand and Electric Vehicles (Hydrogen FCEV/ICE). There is movement towards CO2 reduction as CAFE norms are implemented along with Real Driving Emission Measurement (RDE) to reduce total carbon dioxide emissions and regulate real time emission measurement. Especially in Japan, Europe and USA ‘Green Value Chain Platform’ is disclosed by the Ministry of the Environment. In recent years, companies have become more aware of their own emissions and from the perspective of enhancing CSR, they are likely to shift/accelerate from “their own emissions” to “emissions of the entire supply chain (GHG Protocol Scope 3).”

India’s automotive industry is going through a seismic shift driven by a combination of new competition, disruptive technologies and tightening legislation. How are you coping with these changes in the businesses/services that you represent?
RG: Horiba is a global leader in providing cutting-edge technology products, solutions and advanced applications to automotive R&D. With global expertise and local technical centres, we are able to provide these innovative advanced solutions to the Indian auto Industry. In the last 16+ years we have expanded our capability from product offering to service support to advance application solutions like Digital Twin Solutions for RDE replication in lab with good corelation value. At our Horiba India Technical Centre, Pune, we have locally developed products and solutions for two- and three-wheeler chassis dyno for EV application and altitude simulations in lab conditions up to 5,000 metres.

India has declared that it wants to be carbon neutral by 2070 and sees the automotive sector playing a big role. Where does Horiba fit in and what are you bringing to the table?
RT Desai (RT): We have introduced a wide range of analytical and measurement solutions and engineering consultancy to meet those technical challenges in industrial fields such as Alternate Fuels, Flex Fuels, ethanol, CNG, LNG, EV Testing, Battery Testing, Fuel Cell, Hydrogen ­— ICE Testing, Electrolyser Testing along with Functional Safety, Cyber Security, BMS, VCU development etc. Not only to develop and provide analytical and measuring instruments but also to respond to various needs with combined skills of engineering and consulting. Based on analysis, testing, and evaluation experiences, we are expanding deliverables in our portfolio.

There’s also a lot of talk about hydrogen as the green fuel of the future that can be used in both ICE engines and FCEVs. What is HORIBA offering in this direction?
RT: We strongly believe that the future of energy is green hydrogen as it will enable net zero emissions for industry, transport and housing. HORIBA is enabling this future from basic materials research to the development and testing of electrolysis equipment and fuel cells for various applications. We are supporting a sustainable hydrogen energy society with analysis and measurement technology for the generation, storage and utilisation of the gas.

How do you address the changing legislative roadmaps or customer needs or evaluate the latest technology applications in the areas that you represent?
RT: Technology trends and regulatory pressures are unchanged. However, accelerating shift out of conventional ICE into alternate fuels and EVs with limited electrification infrastructure also opens up other avenues like H2/ICE, Fuel Cells, and e-fuels. Also, we could see initial investment in ADAS / AV technology as a driver assist up to the l2 level.

In your estimation, what would be the biggest technology disruptors in the automotive industry in say, the next few years, and how well are you prepared to cope with them?
RT: In our opinion, the government has an objective to drive self-sustainability with technologies for India developed locally with a technology neutral approach for bringing down EV battery costs and building a charging infrastructure with the intelligent integrated power grid. In parallel, the government will focus on adding renewable power capacity to meet the growing demand. The cost of green hydrogen is to be brought down below US$1 per kg to make it viable. We expect a lot of disruptions will happen in this space.  

Which is better – Hydrogen powered ICE vehicles or Hydrogen powered FCEVs for India?
RT: In four or five years, we expect H2ICE commercial vehicles or intercity transport will be reality as this will be an easily achievable natural migration for the Indian automotive industry. This can be done without major changes in the current supply chain management, except for the cost of hydrogen and hydrogen supply infrastructure. Fuel Cell technology will follow on in commercial vehicles siz to eight years later, as and when the technology will be available to industry to meet the market economics of total cost of ownership. By this period, the industry will gear up in setting up the required supply chain management, infrastructure at affordable cost of ownership.

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

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