'ZF is pitching India in the global scenario as local for local, making it the company’s hub.'
Suresh KV, President, ZF India explains how the ZF Group plans to rev up localisation in India, setting up a new technology centre in Hyderabad and making India operations a global sourcing hub.
Suresh KV, President, ZF India explains how the ZF Group plans to rev up localisation in India, setting up a new technology centre in Hyderabad and making India operations a global sourcing hub. Excerpts from an interview by Kiran Bajad.
Asia Pacific is one of ZF’s key growth markets. In this context, how you see India as an opportunity market?
My focus is growth across business units and the entire spectrum of engineering. Depending upon customer requirements, we are ready to provide all the solutions.
I see possibilities of growth in renewals, off-highways, commercial vehicles and passenger cars in India.
Is the Indian market providing ZF with plenty of new business opportunities in the near-term?
That is exactly why we have invested in Pune and integrated the operation under one umbrella. We believe India is one of the critical markets where we need to invest. We cater to passenger cars, commercial vehicles and the off-highway segments in India and currently all are growing. But as the country’s infrastructure grows, the off-highway segment will certainly grow including earthmoving equipment and tippers.
We also see the Indian industrial and aviation sectors offering growth opportunities. Besides this, the government’s focus on defence and indigenous products would also open up potential growth opportunities in the near-term. Preliminary talks in this direction are already underway.
Can you highlight some India-specific challenges while targeting growth?
There are challenges in the India market. Firstly, it is a very competitive market, which means you need to be one notch ahead in terms of quality, delivery and cost. We have to be ready with a performance which is better and one the customer will look forward.
Secondly, we have to adapt to customer requirements, so application engineering is very critical and that is applicable to any market. Lastly, we have challenges in sourcing material in the country but I think it is possible for us to overcome this if the right management initiatives are put in place.
TRW’s acquisition globally was a big step forward for ZF. How you see it in the Indian context?
The acquisition will complement the business like anywhere in the world, but I think we have to learn from our partners TRW.
ZF has been in India for just 10-15 years, TRW with Brakes India has been in India for many decades. With that, we get the experience from the TVS Group. I believe, from the skills perspective, we will have much more experience in the organisation with TRW and much more manufacturing methods. ZF is good in technologies but these organisations are goods in processes. So basically, with the acquisition, both the companies will gain immensely.
How is ZF looking to tap the engineering talent available in India?
We already have application engineers working in the country. We are also doing back-end design for certain products globally. We are also trying to work on slowly but steadily increase our engineering strength. It is a matter of time. We are learning the latest technology and delivering it in line with the expectations globally.
Can you provide details on ZF’s upcoming engineering centre in Hyderabad?
We call it a technology centre. Currently, we are working on it and the first step has been taken. Various business divisions are working on how to tap the Indian market. We are looking at another 12-18 months before it starts operations.
You said semi-automatic technology would be relevant to India. Can you elaborate?
Today, AMT is a reality in India as far as passenger cars are concerned but 7-8 years ago nobody had thought it will come that quickly. So full autonomous or AMT or full automatic may not be possible for Indian CVs immediately but if you take certain pockets like the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, these technologies could have potential. Just like cruise control is available in India for many years now in high-end cars.
Is ZF India’s plan to target Rs 100 million euros worth of exports in the next 2-3 years achievable?
Currently, we are exporting about 35 million euros worth of components from India and we would like to grow to 100 million euros in the next 2-3 years. We have already discussed this with our suppliers, so that they would be ready for this goal.
Exports from India is also a focus area for ZF as the company looks to make India a sourcing hub globally for entire ZF entities. The focus is not just manufacturing in India but on exporting as well. ZF is pitching India in the global scenario as local for local, making India its engineering, manufacturing and sourcing hub.
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