In 2017, the Indian automotive industry witnessed a slew of change such as adoption BS IV norms across the country (from April 1, 2017), mandatory crash tests for new vehicles (from October 1, 2017), etc. At the same time, the industry is gearing up to meet future requirements such as BS VI norms (by 2020) and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Over the years, the Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has been playing a crucial role in the development of safe, less polluting and more efficient vehicles in the country. Rakesh Rao discusses imminent challenges that the auto industry is facing and probable solutions for the same with Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director, ARAI.
How competitive are Indian manufacturers in terms of developing powertrain systems?
In my view, Indian manufacturers do have a capability of developing powertrain systems. However, given that they do not have a luxury of large time available for complete new development for entire spread of vehicle models/platforms, it is clear that services from overseas development/ research houses would be taken by them.
In case of small vehicle manufacturers (two and three wheelers) the challenges are multifold.
In India, the auto industry will adopt BS VI (equivalent to Euro VI) emission norms by 2020. What types of modifications will be needed in powertrain systems to be BS VI compliant?
BSVI is not just the laboratory level emission measurement and compliance. It will first time bring in the new requirements like RDE (Real Driving Emissions), in-service checks, etc. This necessitates tight control over variability in various operating conditions. In addition, tight targets for CO2 (fuel efficiency) based on corporate fleet average (to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards or CAFE) will govern the powertrain optimisation.
It is expected that all engines would be electronically controlled with optimised after-treatment solutions. It is also expected that the share of diesel vehicle will go down in favour of petrol versions.
What will be the effect of the trend towards electrification on powertrain system? How well-prepared are Indian manufacturers (car as well as component) for electrification?
The push from regulatory side being: Newly introduced EV policy, public procurement of EVs, further tightening of fuel efficiency norms (CAFE based), etc. In order that necessary pull is created in the public demand, there is a need for standardisation and creation of public charging infrastructure.
Manufactures will be working for step by step introduction of EVs.
They will have to gear up for supply chain development for the critical components.
Due to emission effect, auto companies are looking at launching more of petrol/CNG variant than diesel. Is this also leading to changes in requirement of components used in powertrain systems?
Emission norms at BS VI level become technology agnostic.
But, the incremental increase in cost and weight in diesel would be very big challenge to overcome. Manufacturers will look at not just petrol and CNG options, but are also are seriously considering EVs and hybrids.
What are the emerging trends in powertrain system?
Globally the focus is expected to shift to cleaner energy options (hydrogen, fuel cell, hybrid electric vehicles or HEVs) to address the energy and pollution crisis. More emphasis is being given to shift the trend to integrated transportation solutions rather than to personal mobility. For a big country like India, the local problems also will need local solutions in terms of energy supply. It is, therefore, expected that a combination of newly developed alternate energy powertrains and conventional optimised powertrains might emerge as a winner!