The 81-year-old, Chennai-based diversified Amalgamations Group, which manufactures an expansive range of components used in internal combustion engines, is readying for the industry shift to electric mobility.
“NITI Aayog has already come out with a policy statement saying that all two-wheelers less than 150cc will have to be electric by 2024. The industry has got some view on this but we believe this is a reality and it will happen. In the future, above 150cc two-wheelers will also be electric sooner rather than later. A similar transition may also take place in the passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle segments too,” said N Venkataramani, Director of the Group and Chairman and Managing Director of India Pistons. in a rare and exclusive interview with Autocar Professional.
N Venkataramani: "We already have a team of 10 engineers, which is tasked with exploring various opportunities in vehicle electrification."
Venkataramani added, “However, worldwide today, the penetration of EVs, even in developed countries, is less than one percent compared to IC-engined vehicles. The government has set a target of 30 percent by 2030; we believe it will be near-about 10 percent by then as the infrastructure and other investments to drive this will take time. The government’s concern is emission reduction, both NoX and CO2, but there is a future for IC engines beyond 2030, subject to stricter emission norms.”
The 50-firm Amalgamations Group, which has companies like TAFE, India Pistons, IP Rings, Bimetal Bearings, AMCO Batteries, Kuduma Fasteners, Amalgamations Valeo Clutch and Amalgamations Repco, in its fold has taken concrete steps towards EVs by setting up a group of 8-10 engineers who have been tasked to look at various opportunities in field of vehicle electrification. “This team is speeding up the work, and we are looking at global manufacturers in various markets including the USA, the UK and China. We have already identified a few things but it’s too early to talk about them at this stage. Initial discussions are currently underway, mostly on the electric drive and transmission,” said Venkataramani.
Like other leading Indian component suppliers, the Group is readying to support OEMs in the transition to new BS VI emission norms as also get future-ready for new mobility trends. “We have to ride two horses at the same time — firstly, to make our existing business sharper, reliable and in tune with the new world. Secondly, explore opportunities in EVs. The team will look at both these areas. For example, we are working on an assembled crankshaft that is one step better than the current crankshafts used in engines in India,” said Venkataramani.
When queried about any potential interest about getting into lithium-ion battery manufacturing, since the Amalgamations Group already has AMCO Batteries, Venkataramani said, “If we look at the overall growth of EVs, there are three things and one of them is the battery. The battery itself has two parts — the cell manufacturing and the basic chemistry of lithium. This can be addressed only with huge investments and there are already big companies that have made a big bet. It’s too late for us to get into that. The second aspect is taking advantage of this. Basically, you need a player who can put everything together in a box, suitable for any application, engineer the battery management system and then you can readily apply it into an EV. This is a space where it is possible for us to play a role and we are looking at this opportunity — being a player in the EV battery area but not necessarily in cell making.”
Extensive work on BS VI components
The Amalgamations Group has put its shoulder to the BS VI wheel. Over the past couple of years, it has been actively engaged with its OEM clientele to develop BS VI-relevant components.
According to Ventakaramani, “Taking a newer approach for BS VI, a lot of work is underway in several areas. For example, our pistons and rings for engines – there are two aspects to their design and manufacturing. In the design aspect, we expect the pressure in the combustion to go up substantially; for this, we need to go in for high-strength alloys and, maybe in extreme cases, steel. We are at an advanced stage of developing these products and have already given samples to OEMs. It may also require internal cooling of the piston, sophisticated technology for some kind of cavity inside the piston, and also surface coating of the piston, one which will not peel off under any circumstance. Likewise for piston rings too. We are working with our Japanese JV partner on both the steel technology as well as the sophisticated coating required. We have already received approvals from key OEMs such as Volkswagen India, Ford India, and others,” concluded Venkataramani.
Full interview with N Venkataramani in Autocar Professional's August 1 issue