Asahi bets big on luxury cars

The Haryana-based glass supplier, which has a market leading 65% share in automotive glasses, is betting on rising premiumisation to drive future growth in the vehicle segment.

By Mayank Dhingra  calendar 07 Jul 2024 Views icon2105 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Asahi bets big on luxury cars

Gurugram, Haryana-based Asahi India Glass (AIS), which posted a 6.2% year-on-year growth in its FY24 revenue to Rs 4,162 crore, is looking to grow at a healthy double-digit pace in the ongoing financial year. This is despite the projected flat growth rate of the passenger vehicle (PV) market on a high base of 4.2 million units.

The company’s confidence stems mainly from the growing premiumisation of cars in India. For instance, AIS is increasingly witnessing growing demand for UV-cut side window glasses, as well as rear-defogger equipped windshields from OEMs. 

Furthermore, it remains bullish about the demand for sunroofs from the domestic market, and has a healthy projection to supply over 1.5-million sunroof glasses this year. AIS, a joint venture between Maruti Suzuki, Asahi Glass (Japan) and Labroo & Associates, is a key supplier of sunroof glass to sunroof majors of the likes of Webasto, CIE Golde, as well as the Anand Group’s sunroof venture – Inalfa Roof Systems – among other players in India.

Additionally, the leader in India's automotive glass segment, with an estimated 72% passenger vehicle OEM market share by end-FY2024, is also betting big on new product introductions. This includes laminated side window glass, which offers both solar and acoustic insulation, as well as a newer iteration of sunroof from one of its key Indian PV OEM customers, adding to its business in FY2025. 

According to Amit Sood, Senior Executive Director, Sales & Marketing, AIS, “We plan to grow our PV market share to up to 75% this year, and aim to grow our revenues by double-digit.” Revenue growth will also come from additional sub-assemblies such as ADAS mounting brackets, which the company integrates in front windshields.

Looking ahead for capacity expansion

AIS’ five manufacturing plants in Bawal (Haryana), Patan (Gujarat), Pune and Taloja in Maharashtra, Roorkee (Uttarakhand), and Chennai (Tamil Nadu) have a combined annual production capacity of up to 8.2 million laminated front windshields, and 5.7 million tempered window and rear glass car sets. 

In line with the India Auto Inc’s future expected growth, AIS plans to augment the capacities further to 10 million laminated windshields, and 7.2 million tempered glasses by FY2028. Within automotive, over 75% of AIS’ revenue comes from OEM supplies, with the remaining 25% from the replacement market, where it is a key supplier to distributors and dealers and operates the popular ‘Windshield Experts’ repair workshops as standalone entities.

While Maruti Suzuki India is its biggest PV OEM customer with more than an 85% share of business, the Japanese Tier-I glass supplier is also the sole vendor in India to Toyota Kirloskar Motor, and enjoys a healthy 65% business share for the Hyundai-Kia combine in India as well. The Tier-I major is a key supplier to all leading OEMs across the PV, three-wheeler, off-highway, tractor and commercial vehicle segments, with a combined share of close to 65 percent. 

Rs 2,500 crore capex

AIS, whose 55% shareholding is with the promoters and the balance from the public listing, has made significant investments in the recent past to fuel its future growth.

While it has invested close to Rs 900 crore in its latest plant in Patan, Gujarat, from where it caters to OEMs like Suzuki Motor Gujarat (SMG), Tata Motors, and MG Motor India, the company will commission the third phase of this facility in FY2025 to increase its total installed capacity from the existing 1.6 million laminated windshields, and 1.6 million tempered glass car sets, to 2.4 million laminated windshields, and 2.4 million tempered car sets, each.

While the third line is set to be commissioned by September 2024, AIS envisions the Gujarat facility to become one of its largest manufacturing locations by FY2028. The plant also features zero liquid discharge, linear flow, and high automation with its wellplanned layout.

Furthermore, AIS has aligned a major investment of Rs 1,400 crore in a greenfield plant in Rajasthan’s Soniyana, which will localise float glass and cater to domestic market requirements with an initial monthly capacity of up to 170,000 metric tonnes. The company has recently partnered Inox Air Products to procure green hydrogen to power this facility with a focus on sustainability. AIS aims to leverage green hydrogen to reduce CO2 emissions to the tune of 25,000 MT over two decades from this upcoming facility.

Slated to be commissioned by end-CY2025, the float glass plant will also produce the input raw material for AIS to manufacture the dark-green UV-cut glass, which, as per the company, has been approved for concessions under the PLI scheme. AIS says it will target at least 70% percent localisation at SOP from this new facility, which will rely heavily on renewable energy and solar power. Meanwhile, it will continue to import the remaining float glass through its Japanese technical partner — Asahi Glass Corporation (AGC) — by leveraging the India-Indonesia FTA to source the glass from AGC’s Indonesian plant, and continue to also de-risk the supply chain. 

While it is currently the sole automotive glass supplier in India to have won the Deming Prize, AIS is also conducting a sustainability study with Deloitte to map the sustainability points across the Asahi Group, and is in the process of freezing its sustainability roadmap for the future.

Robust R&D, futuristic product roadmap

AIS is also investing heavily into its local R&D with its in-house R&D centre which has three verticals – R&D, Production Technology, and New Model — offering an all-encompassing engineering competence. While all its laminated windshield, and tempered glass manufacturing lines and processes have been designed completely in-house, AIS also develops the majority of the tooling with its in-house engineering division striking into action. 

The company says these in-house machine and tool R&D competencies give it a competitive advantage. This enables reduction of the turnaround time for a new prototype, typically around 50 days for a front windshield sample and less than a month for a side window glass. 

AIS is also implementing a kaizen (continuous innovation) mantra in its products while tapping into new technological trends and consumer expectations. Furthermore, while it focuses on reducing weight of its components, particularly for EV applications, it believes laminated side-window glass to be the next big revolution in the PV industry with the product’s capabilities of offering solar as well as acoustic insulation. 

Rahul Nikhanj, Head, Projects and Production Technology, AIS, states: “We can offer around 11-14% reduction in weight through lightweighting techniques in glass without compromising on its strength.” As per Nikhanj, the thickness of the side window glass is reducing from the conventional 3.2mm to 2.8mm, and the trend is moving towards OEMs adopting even thinner 2.5mm or 2.6mm tempered glasses. “As we go thinner, there is a tendency for the vehicle NVH to increase, but there are technologies available that can compensate for the reduction in thickness by adding thinner laminates in the side glasses, or by replacing tempered sunroofs with laminated ones, or by adding acoustic interlayers in the laminated glasses,” he added. 

AIS’ future-readiness for the automotive industry includes head-up display (HUD) windscreens and sunroofs with adjustable light-control functionalities. 

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's July 1, 2024 issue.

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